Tuesday October 03, 2023

Govt ready to release Toshakhana gifts record: Asif

By News Desk & By Muhammad Anis
March 10, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif Thursday confirmed the government had given a go-ahead for making records of Toshakhana gifts public following a high court orders.

Regarding the records of Toshakhana gifts, the move comes days after the government apprised the Lahore High Court (LHC) that the records of Toshakhana gifts since 2002 were being “declassified” and would be uploaded to the internet after final deliberation, reported Geo News.

The LHC on January 19 directed the government to submit an affidavit, declaring the details of the Toshakhana gifts as “classified”.

In a statement, the defence minister said the record of Toshakhana would be uploaded to the Cabinet Division’s website. Authorities on February 22 submitted in the court a sealed record of Toshakhana gifts received by premiers, presidents and bureaucrats from foreign dignitaries since the creation of Pakistan.

Deputy Attorney General Asad Bajwa apprised the court that it was a “classified” record and the court could open it. The final decision in this regard, however, will be made in the upcoming meeting of the federal cabinet.

Meanwhile, the federal cabinet, in its meeting chaired by Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday, approved the National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance, 2023 and Haj Policy for the year 2023.

The cabinet, on the recommendation of the Ministry of Law and Justice, approved the promulgation of National Accountability (Amendment), 2023 to address some complications that were created following recent amendments in the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.

The promulgation of the ordinance will provide legal cover for the transfer of cases by the accountability courts to other courts. The accountability courts will be able to transfer cases that do not fall in the jurisdiction of NAB following an amendment in the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999. This will also neutralise an impression that such cases, which do not come in jurisdiction of NAB, have been criminalised. At

present, the accountability courts are facing legal complications in the transfer of such cases to other courts, tribunals and forums.

With the approval of Haj Policy 2023, the prime minister directed the Ministry of Religious Affairs to extend every possible facility to intending pilgrims with the coordination of Saudi authorities, during their travel and stay in two holy cities.

Under the Haj Policy, the government decided to allocate 50% quota for the sponsorship scheme while the remaining 50% quota was fixed for regular scheme and private scheme. Only overseas Pakistanis and their relatives would be able to take benefit of sponsorship by depositing Haj expenses in foreign exchange.

The scheduled banks are likely to start receiving Haj applications from March 13 whereas in view of the existing Pakistan currency rate, the expenses for Haj are likely to range between Rs1.1 million to Rs1.2 million.

The meeting also approved the National Clean Air Policy in view of the increasing air pollution, particularly in big cities like Karachi and Lahore. According to estimates, there has been a reduction in average age by 2.7 years due to air pollution in the country. According to the World Bank, the country’s economy was also suffering due to this factor.

In order to bring a considerable reduction in air pollution, it has been suggested to enhance the standard of fuel from Euro 5 to Euro 6, strict implantation of laws of gases and smoke from industries and for disposal of garbage.

A National Action Committee and a Technical Committee would be established which, besides ensuring implementation of clear air policy, would also suggest changes in it after every five years while keeping in view ground facts. The cabinet meeting was informed that there could be 40% reduction in release of poisonous gases, particularly by industries, and there would be an increase of two years in average age if there is strict implementation of policy.