The federal cabinet on Tuesday decided that Pakistan would not take the decision to recognise the Taliban government in Afghanistan unilaterally or bilaterally, instead, the government would reach out to regional and international powers first, before moving ahead in this regard.
At the post-cabinet meeting news conference, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry sounded setting preconditions for recognising the new rulers in Afghanistan, as he said that Pakistan wanted the new regime in Kabul to respect fundamental human rights and ensure that the Taliban would not allow anyone to use the Afghanistan’s soil against Pakistan or any other country.
Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired the cabinet meeting, which was first after the Taliban seized Kabul earlier this week. During the meeting, Imran apprised the federal cabinet of the developing situation in Afghanistan and the decisions taken in the National Security Committee (NSC) meeting on Monday.
At the news conference the minister was asked by reporters about the government’s decision regarding recognising the Taliban as the ruler of Afghanistan. Chaudhry replied that the government’s “stance is clear” that it would not take decision in isolation.
“We will take decisions after consulting with the regional and international powers,” the minister said, adding: “Pakistan is a responsible country in the international community; our decisions will neither be unilateral nor bilateral, they will be multilateral.”
Chaudhry emphasised the need for “a regional decision”, saying that it has to be taken in consultation with regional and international powers. “The government, he added, was in touch with its “friends in the region and in the international community” and the government would decide accordingly.
In this regard, Chaudhry said, Prime Minister Imran had a detailed discussion on the Afghan issue with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a couple of days ago while on Monday, foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi spoke with his US counterpart, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.
“We are in touch with the groups inside Afghanistan and the other friends,” the information minister told reporters. “We are happy that there was no bloodshed, war, or loss of properties and businesses in the transition, so far.”
In the NSC meeting, Chaudhry said, the government emphasised that Taliban should abide by the internationally-recognised fundamental human rights, hoping that the new government in Kabul would do so in the future.
The minister recalled that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had been told time and again that he would not be able to continue his rule alone for long and that it was suggested to him that the Afghan government should go for an inclusive government.
“But he [Ashraf Ghani] did not listen,” the minister said, emphasising that Pakistan had been suggesting for quite some time now that an inclusive government should be formed in Afghanistan.
Among other key decisions, Chaudhry said that the prime minister categorically told the cabinet that all stakeholders should be consulted before finalising the electoral reforms, and stressed that electronic voting machine (EVM) was imperative for holding free, fair and transparent and dispute-free elections.
The minister said the cabinet was informed that the final decision about the use of EVM in next elections would be taken in the next 15 days. He added the science and technology ministry had given a successful demonstration to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) about the EVM use on Tuesday.
Chaudhry revealed that the cabinet expressed concerns over the falling standards of sports in the country and directed Inter Provincial Coordination Minister Fehmida Mirza, to bring a new sports policy and change the infrastructure of sports in the country. “The Prime minister has directed for changing the sports system altogether,” he added.
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The cabinet approved the revamping of new local bodies election laws in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) within next 120 days, including increasing the number of union council in proportion to the population, the minister said.
He added that for 20,000 population, a new union council would be constituted. In addition, he said, Prime Minister Imran had directed the authorities concerned to expedite finalisation of Islamabad master plan.
Meanwhile, the cabinet lauded the efforts of Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood for introducing the uniform curriculum in the country, saying the uniform curriculum would help eliminate class differences in the society. During the meeting, Mehmood informed the cabinet that some 86% teachers and staff of educational institutes had already been administered anti-Covid vaccines.
Sharing details of the expenditure incurred on the security and protocol of various personalities, the minister said that the government was reducing protocol expenditures. He recalled that the National Assembly speaker saved Rs1.57 billion and returned to the government, adding the prime minister bore the expenses of his Bani Gala residence.
The federal cabinet also approved lease and tenancy policy of the Pakistan Post. The ministers were informed that the Pakistan Post had some 4,257 properties, out of which around 21 properties would be leased out in the first phase.
The cabinet reappointed Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Chariman Lt-Gen (retd) Muzammil Hussain for another term. The cabinet held the view that Hussain was supervising the construction of 10 dams and at this critical juncture he should not be changed.
At the outset of the cabinet meeting, the prime minister felicitated the cabinet on completion of three years in government and emphasised on transforming the country on pattern of State of Madina. It was decided in the meeting that the government would present its three-year performance after Ashura.
Responding to another question, Chaudhry asked the opposition parties to give suggestions for improving the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) instead of simply criticising the proposed law.
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