Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Tuesday said that talks would be held with those angry Baloch who were not directly linked to India, while criteria for those linked to New Delhi or involved in terrorism would be different.
“We are moving from busting of Indian network to the government’s plan to initiate negotiations with aggrieved people and nationalists in Balochistan,” the information minister said while addressing a news conference on Tuesday after the federal cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Hoping that Balochistan will soon become a hub of peace, Fawad said, “Peace in the province is important to the government because Balochistan is central to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).”
Fawad said the prime minister’s trip to Gwadar a day ago is proof that the federal government gives importance to CPEC.
On the Johar Town blast, the minister said the arrest of culprits involved in the crime by the police and security agencies was the biggest achievement after busting of the terror network run by Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav.
The minister lauded the prompt action by Punjab police and the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) for exposing such a big network of India.
The government spokesperson said that more details about the network, including accounts, the names of people involved and the banks in Delhi through which money was transferred to the network, would be shared soon.
Among other important developments, the minister said that he informed the cabinet that the electronic voting machines would be ready by July 15, 2021.
The minister along with the adviser on parliamentary affairs briefed the cabinet about progress on electronic machines and voting rights to the overseas Pakistanis.
Fawad said that the cabinet has approved Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority Ordinance 2021 and Pakistan Airports Authority Ordinance 2021, adding that the government has also decided to turn the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) into a regulatory body and there will be a separate body for providing services.
The minister revealed that the premier has directed the CAA to make the Gilgit and Skardu airports all-weather friendly for further promoting the tourism industry in the country. Referring to improving the system of arrival and departure of aircraft at Gilgit and Skardu airports, the minister said that the prime minister directed the Aviation Division to provide special assistance to persons with special needs in aircrafts, especially during boarding and disembarking.
Reviewing the issues related to protocol and security of federal ministers, ministers of state and other officials, he said the prime minister directed that the system be reviewed.
Fawad said that the PM said that he himself had initiated simplicity in terms of protocol and security. He said that the premier told the cabinet that he has almost given up his private and social engagements in view of security requirements as well as the inconvenience and difficulties faced by the people.
Due to the security and protocol of the prime minister, he said, his travels are kept to a minimum.
Fawad said that the PM has directed that the security needs of all the ministers should be reassessed and security would be provided to only those who are faced with threats.
At the same time, he said, the PM directed that the system of hoisting flag on vehicles also be reviewed and a policy in this regard be presented at the next cabinet meeting.
Regarding the provision of 3G and 4G internet in the former tribal areas, it was stated that ensuring the provision of modern internet facilities in these areas is one of the top priorities of the government. The cabinet was informed that due to security reasons, there was difficulty in providing modern internet facilities in the area but 3G/4G facility was restored in Bajaur and South Waziristan in March 2019 and January 2021, respectively.
For other areas, a schedule has been chalked out by the PTA, which has also been submitted to the court in response to a petition filed in the Islamabad High Court in this regard. The cabinet stressed that steps should be taken on a priority basis for the provision of 3G/4G services in the former tribal areas. Any security situation should be reported immediately.
The cabinet was also briefed on the economic indicators. In terms of current account deficit, it was reported that the present government inherited the largest current account deficit ($20 billion) in the country's history, but after three years of efforts, it has brought to a break-even stage.
The cabinet was told that imports had increased by $7.2 billion in the last month. Of this, 15-20% has been in the form of machinery imports. The cabinet was informed that the SBP's reserves increased by $5.7 billion, compared to the previous year. It was also briefed on cotton, rice, sugarcane, wheat and maize in real sector and told that large scale manufacturing has seen an increase of 12.8%.
The cabinet was informed that there has been a decline in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Sensitive Price Index (SPI). The cabinet was told that private investors have expressed confidence and a trend of increased investment is clearly visible, adding that the credit to private business grew 116 per cent and there has been a significant increase in fixed investment.
Planning Minister Asad Umar briefed the cabinet on the status of the coronavirus epidemic and especially the spread of the Indian variant. While fixing the retail price of Convidecia, a vaccine manufactured by CanSino Biologics Inc, China, at Rs12,168 for three doses, the cabinet called for ensuring implementation of SOPs.
The cabinet expressed satisfaction over the recognition of Pakistan's achievements in coronavirus in the Economist Report and appreciated the services of the National Coordination Committee for Covid-19.
The cabinet considered the proposed ‘Islamabad Capital Territory Sound Systems (Regulation) Act 2019’ and approved to send the proposed law to the Cabinet Committee on Legislation.
The prime minister directed the minister for religious affairs to come up with suggestions regarding the system of providing stipends and training for Imams as being followed in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
The cabinet also approved the decisions of the National Tariff Policy Board regarding regulatory duties and additional customs duties on various items to address anomalies identified during the preparation of the budget. It also approved the abolition of additional customs duty on locally manufactured vehicles (1,000cc and less) and reduced the Additional Custom Duty (ACD) on vehicles above 1,000cc from 7% to 2%.
Meanwhile, the cabinet approved debt rescheduling agreements with 13 countries under G-20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative (Extension) as well as approving signing of Transit Trade Agreement between Pakistan and Uzbekistan.
In order to improve management of properties owned by the federal government and its organisations, the cabinet accorded in-principle approval for the establishment of Federal Government Properties Management Authority.
A report on the implementation of the decisions taken in the previous meetings was submitted to the federal cabinet. The meeting was informed that so far 141 cabinet meetings have been held in which 3,776 decisions have been taken. Of these, 3,444 (91%) have been implemented. Sixty-six are being implemented. Implementation on 123 decisions has been delayed while 142 decisions are related to memoranda of understanding or agreements. Matters pertaining to pending decisions related to various ministries were also considered in detail.
Regarding the introduction of transparent and reliable testing system for recruitment in government jobs, the PM directed that a system be devised as soon as possible in this regard. Moreover, the cabinet directed the CDA chairman to give a detailed briefing at the next meeting on protection of green areas and elimination of encroachments in the federal capital.
The cabinet considered the proposed Islamabad Capital Territory Safe City Authority Act 2021; Islamabad Capital Territory Maintenance of Public Order Act, 2019; Islamabad Capital Territory Security of Vulnerable Establishments Act 2019 and Islamabad Capital Territory Information of Temporary Residents Act 2019 and approved to send the proposed law to the Cabinet Committee on Legislation.
The cabinet approved the appointment of members of PEMRA Council of Complaints Balochistan. It approved the appointment of Sehar Zarin Bandial to the PEMRA Council of Complaints, Lahore. The agenda for the appointment of Pakistan Gems and Jewelery Development Company CEO was deferred.
Regarding the appointment of Employees Old Age Benefits Institution chairman, the cabinet directed reinitiating the process.
With regard to the appointment of a member (Support Services) in the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the cabinet directed that the appointment process be repeated, in which the existing members are also important to participate.
The decisions taken at the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Energy on June 17, 18 and 24, 2021, were ratified. The decisions taken at the June 17, 2021, meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Institutional Reforms were also ratified.
The cabinet approved the appointment of RSM Avais Hyder Liaquat Nauman Chartered Accountants for the financial year ending June 30, 2021 of SECP.
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