LAHORE: Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Central Information Secretary Qamar Zaman Kaira said on Tuesday that the Punjab government was playing a blame game with the federal government in the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) scandal and that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif should devolve his additional portfolios.
Kaira was addressing a press conference in Lahore in a bid to share the PPP’s views on pertinent issues in the country. He lashed out at Shahbaz, that instead of playing a blame game, Shahbaz should instead devolve his additional portfolios and take concrete steps against ill governance in the province.
He added that according to the Drugs Act 1976, three provinces had expressed their consent over the establishment of a Drug Regulatory Authority but the Punjab province was yet to give its consent.
The PPP leader said that the federal government’s function was to issue licenses to pharmaceutical companies and has around 30 federal drug inspectors. Meanwhile, the Punjab government with 450 provincial drug inspectors had failed to check the contaminated medicines.
Talking about early elections, Kaira said that the federal government would discuss early elections after presenting the fifth budget in May.
Regarding the appointment of the Election Commission of Pakistan chief, he said that as per the 18th Amendment, after consultation with the leader of the opposition, three names would be forwarded to the parliamentary committee. The committee, comprising of representatives from all political parties, would then decide upon the new commissioner.
In the event of a lack of consensus upon the names, they would separately forward three names, each, to the committee which would be later signed on by the President of Pakistan. Kaira, though, hoped that the federal government and opposition would appoint a new ECP chief with consensus.
Regarding the appointment of a defence secretary, he added that it was the Prime Minister’s prerogative and that this issue would also soon be resolved amicably. Kaira added that in the past both civilian and military personnel had occupied this post.
Kaira called the Memogate case a useless issue which had diverted the government’s attention from the real issues facing the nation. While criticising the military with caution, he said that although it was the military’s duty to stop the May 2 incident and to probe the presence of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, instead, the incumbent civilian government had defended its intelligence agencies and the army on all forums.
Kaira added that prior to Memogate, the whole country was in consensus over the suspension of NATO supply routes after the Salala attack, but after this case garnered public attention, the nation got diverted, with certain quarters benefiting.
He added that the parliamentary committee on National Security and a judicial commission was probing into the case, hence the court should be allowed to decide.
Restoration of Nato supply routes
Speaking on the restoration of Nato supply routes, Kaira said that the government would soon call a joint session of the parliament in which recommendations of the committee regarding NATO supply and Pak US relations would be finalised.
Government’s achievements in the parliament
The PPP information secretary also mentioned the federal government’s achievements over the past four years, highlighting that 176 bills had been passed, six private members bills, four joint sessions, four presidential addresses to the parliament and four budgets presented in the house.
The defence committee on cabinet had convened 10 meetings, 73 Economic Coordination Committee meetings and 102 cabinet meetings.
During the press conference, Kaira said that the federal government would easily pass the 20th Amendment with two thirds majority.