PM to unveil Karachi plan on Friday

Says people of Karachi have been suffering from problems for years and the government can't leave them alone

Rizwan Shehzad September 02, 2020
Prime Minister Imran Khan gestures during the interview. SCREENGRAB

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz on Tuesday said Prime Minister Imran Khan would visit Karachi on Friday and unveil ‘Karachi Transformation Plan’.

Addressing a news conference to inform about the decisions of the federal cabinet, the minister said the prime minister was very clear that the contribution of the federal government for Karachi should be through a coordinated and specific programme.

The government’s spokesperson said the federal cabinet also discussed a host of issues, including appointment of an administrator for Karachi, approving industrial and medical use of hemp, got briefing on high-rise buildings surrounding airports in major cities, outsourcing the management of airports and the discovery of 500 irregular appointments made in the Airport Security Force in past.

In the press briefing, Faraz also commented on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the Islamabad High Court (IHC)’s direction for ex-premier Nawaz Sharif to surrender before court, appearance of his daughter Maryam Nawaz before the IHC and assets of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting and the Chairman of CPEC Authority Asim Saleem Bajwa.

The federal cabinet has decided to allow industrial and medical use of hemp – also called bhang – and issued the first license in this regard to Ministry of Science and Technology and the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR)

Soon after the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the Minister for Science Fawad Chaudhry took to micro-blogging site Twitter and declared it a landmark decision, saying it will place Pakistan in billion dollar cannabidiol (CBD) market.

Hemp, or industrial hemp, is a variety of the cannabis that is grown specifically for the industrial uses of its derived products. It can be refined into a variety of commercial items, including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, and animal feed.

According to a report, hemp will be cultivated on a 50-acre area at Jehlum’s Herbal Medicine Park.

In the post-meeting briefing, the Minister for Information Shibli Faraz said the cabinet discussed a host of issues, including appointment of an administrator for Karachi; rule for high-rise buildings near airports; outsourcing management of airports and irregular appointments in the Airport Security Force.

The cabinet was given a detailed briefing on the implementation of the government's decision to simplify the rules and regulations regarding the height of multi-storey buildings in major cities of the country and the steps taken in this regard.

The cabinet was informed that an aeronautical study was conducted to determine the height of multi-storied buildings within the boundaries of airports (13,000 to 50,000 feet) in major cities – Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Multan.

The cabinet was informed that no permission would be required for the construction of 500-foot high-rise buildings within a radius of six to 15 kilometers of the airport and this limit has been fixed keeping in view the international standards.

The cabinet was further told that studies were needed regarding the construction of buildings having more than 500 feet high within six to 15 kilometers of the airport.

Personnel of all building control authorities would also be trained in this regard and an online portal was being set up to provide guidance to builders and developers.

The cabinet was also briefed on the progress made so far in outsourcing the management of airports and amendments in Pakistan Airports Authority Bill 2020 and other laws. It was told that the services of an audit firm were being sought for setting up of best system for outsourcing of airports.

To review the progress of the process, the cabinet approved a committee comprising the minister of aviation, chairman and secretary of the Board of Investment to replace the existing committee.

The cabinet discussed 500 irregular appointments made in the Airport Security Force (ASF) without the approval of the federal government as identified by the ministries and divisions.

These include cases of interim, additional, acting charge and current charge. The cabinet was told that of the 299 appointments, 66 were private individuals and the rest were government employees.

The cabinet was told that PML-N’s Miftah Ismail and Danial Aziz were also appointed heads of institutions in violations of the rules and regulations. Out of 299 appointments, 55 persons are still on their posts.

The cabinet referred the matter of illegal appointments to the Cabinet Committee on Institutional Reforms Committee so that it could come up with a comprehensive plan of action in this regard.

Prime Minister Imran Khan also briefed the cabinet about the Karachi Transformation Plan. Talking about the problems of Karachi and the sufferings faced by the people, he said the people of Karachi have been suffering from problems for years and the government can't leave them alone.

He said efforts were being made to address administrative issues as well as the major problems facing Karachi, including clean water supply, sewerage, solid waste management and transport. He said the government was focusing on sustainable solutions to these major problems.

The timelines and responsibilities regarding the plan have already been determined and all stakeholders are being consulted so that the plan can be finalized this week and formal implementation can begin. The prime minister will leave for Karachi on Friday.

PM Imran Khan directed the finance adviser and special assistant for social security to start the second phase of the Ehsaas program as soon as possible. He expressed satisfaction that despite coronavirus pandemic, the country's economic indicators were showing improvement.

The prime minister also directed authorities that the process of consultation with the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) on the recommendations of a committee set up to provide relief to women prisoners be completed as soon as possible.

The cabinet also approved an amendment to the existing law which would require the elected representative to take oath of office within 60 days after the election.


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