Govt seeks consultative forum with judiciary

Cabinet expresses concern over abusive campaigns against important personalities

Our Correspondent February 16, 2022
PM Imran chairs federal cabinet meeting in Islamabad on Feb 15, 2022. Photo: PID


The federal cabinet on Tuesday stressed the need for setting up a consultation forum between the federal government and the higher judiciary on national issues in order to help end unnecessary delays in important administrative matters.

The cabinet, which met with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair, expressed grave concern over delays in the cases related to tax collection, investment and stay orders on administrative appointments that were causing irreparable losses to the national exchequer.

The meeting considered 25-point agenda. The ministers called for effective legislation to prevent a “culture of hurling abusive”, including allegations against important personalities, especially women, and launching campaigns against them on social media and some television channels.

At the post-cabinet meeting news conference, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that at present the Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) cases worth Rs300 trillion and the cases of the regulatory authorities worth Rs250 billion were in various courts pending decisions.

“This is a huge sum of money that has created an administrative crisis, and the prime minister and the federal cabinet expressed concern over this,” Chaudhry told reporters. “If a time period is fixed for the stay orders, it will be beneficial to the country and the people,” he added.

“Law minister [Farogh Naseem] has been asked to take up the matter with the chief justice of Pakistan and the chief justices of high courts. I hope the chief justice of Pakistan will take a serious look into this matter,” the minister added.

Chaudhry stressed that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government desired a set-up where the government and all the institutions were in harmony on all major decisions. “Prime Minister Imran Khan takes along all the institutions, that is why we do not have any conflict with any institution,” he added.

‘Opposition will fail’

Chaudhry said that the opposition had made 13 abortive attempts in the past to oust the democratically-elected PTI government, adding that their current bid of a no-confidence motion against the prime minister would also meet the same fate.

He added that the corrupt opposition leadership would land in jail for their loot and plunder of the national wealth. “They could bring a no-confidence motion if they managed to save themselves from the corruption cases,” he said.

Chaudhry added that he did not foresee any such move because the opposition leaders would be in jail before taking the “misadventure”. Taking a jibe at the opposition, he read an Urdi couplet: “Na Khanjar Uthay Ga, Na Talwaar Unn Sey … Yeh Bazu Mere Azmaye Hue Hain.”

The minister told reporters that it was evident from the fact that all the main opposition parties, including the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), were relegated to regional parties.

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“They are united not to oust the government, rather to hamper the ongoing accountability drive aimed at recovery of the national wealth looted by them,” he said. “It proves the prime minister’s prediction that all the thieves would get united, when the law took its course against them.”

The minister asked whether Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Maryam Safdar or Shehbaz Sharif had the strength to overthrow the government. “How those who are even unable to carry their own burden, could pose a threat to the government,” he remarked.

The minister advised PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and PML-N Vice President Maryam Safdar to first contest election of a mayor before thinking for the premiership. “Country’s future will be bleak if it is linked to these leaders, the are bygones and have no political future.”

Responding to a question about the live broadcast of the corruption cases, the minister said the government wanted the live broadcast of the proceedings so that the people and the media could know how the corruption was committed in a systematic way.

Accordingly, Fawad Chaudhry added, State Information Minister Farrukh Habib would move a resolution in the National Assembly for a comprehensive debate on live broadcast of the case of Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif.

The cabinet members paid tribute to Prime Minister Imran Khan for the provision of free anti-coronavirus vaccine by the federal government to the people. Chaudhry said that so far, vaccine worth $2.5 billion had been administered free of charge.

“We imported vaccine worth more than $2.5 billion. This was the reason the deficit has gone up,” the minister said. “Out of this amount, we received about $725 million for the vaccines purchase and the rest of the amount was obtained from various other sources.”

Criticising the Sindh government, the minister said that Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had claimed about procuring the vaccine but the Economic Affairs Division record showed that the province did not spend even a single dollar on the purchase of the vaccine.

“All the vaccine doses have been sent to Sindh by the federal government but despite that the vaccination rate in Karachi is not as impressive as in other cities. That is why the situation in Karachi is worse,” he said. “There is a need for increasing the vaccination process [in Sindh].”

Cabinet decisions

The decisions taken by the cabinet included permission to international car-maker Peugeot to import its vehicles for testing in order to start car business in Pakistan, and permission to export 34,500 tons of pulses to Afghanistan under the World Food Programme on humanitarian grounds, Chaudhry said.

The ministers approved the agreement with Saudi Arabia for deferred payment of $821.8 million loan. Chaudhry said that by 2027, a total of about $4 billion repayments would be deferred, adding that the amount would be used for country’s development.

The cabinet also approved 15% Disparity Reduction Allowance for the federal government employees from Grade 1 to 19 besides the paramilitary FC and the Rangers. To another question, the minister said that if oil prices rose in the international markets, these would be jacked up in Pakistan, also.

Chaudhry said that the cabinet gave approval to setting up special courts to facilitate the overseas Pakistanis, adding that the Law Ministry was directed to devise laws. “These courts will ensure speedy trial of the cases pertaining to the expats’ properties,” he added.

He said that cabinet approved the reconstitution of the board of directors of the State Life Insurance Corporation (SLIC) on the recommendation of the Commerce Ministry. The ministers also approved the appointment of Dr Naveed Hamid as member of the Monetary Policy Committee for three years.

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The cabinet allowed extension in the timeframe of international bonds issued for economic stability of the country, directing the ministries of finance and law to hold consultation to give administrative and institutional protection to them.

The minister approved the country’s first-ever digital cloud policy, which was designed to protect digital data in the government institutions as per international standards, the minister said. The policy would help train manpower for the cloud computing, timely use of data and efficient use of resources.

The cabinet approved in principle the draft of Personal Data Protection Bill-2022, which was aimed at preventing unauthorised access to personal information and its misuse. International data protection rules and regulations would be part of the bill, and its draft would be sent to the law committee.

On the recommendation of the Law Ministry, Chaudhry said, the cabinet approved the appointment of Justice (retd) Mian Muhammad Ajmal, Justice (retd) Faisal Arab, Justice (retd) Muhammad Sair Ali and Advocate Syed Ayaz Zahoor on the Law and Justice Commission.

He said the cabinet accorded approval for transfer of 33.5% share in the China Zenhua Oil’s operation and working interest to the Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) in the Baska Block. It gave its consent for the appointment of Brig (retd) Tofique Ahmad as Director General of National Institute of Electronic.



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