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Govt okays army deployment for ‘peaceful polls’

Cabinet approved a summary moved by interior ministry for calling out troops and civil armed forces on eve of general elections

By Mehtab Haider & Muhammad Anis
January 24, 2024
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar chairs a meeting of the Caretaker Federal Cabinet on January 23, 2024. —  APP
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar chairs a meeting of the Caretaker Federal Cabinet on January 23, 2024. —  APP

ISLAMABAD: The caretaker federal cabinet Tuesday decided to call out troops and civil armed forces to assist the civil authorities in peaceful conduct of February 8 general elections. Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar chaired the cabinet meeting.

The cabinet approved a summary moved by the interior ministry for calling out troops and civil armed forces on the eve of general elections.

The troops would perform duties in sensitive constituencies and polling stations and would also act as rapid response force in case of any untoward incident or emergency.

The Clause 1 of Article 245 of the Constitution says the armed forces shall, under the directions of the federal government, defend Pakistan against external aggression or threat of war, and, subject to law, act in aid of civil power when called upon to do so.

The Article 245 (2) says the validity of any direction issued by the federal government under Clause (1) shall not be called into question in any court.

The cabinet saw a heated debate on the FBR restructuring and deferred it.

The caretaker ministers questioned the restructuring plan and asked how the powers and scope of DGs, secretary Revenue Division, Oversight Boards and Policy Board would be differentiated, and how it would be complemented at different tiers.

It was also inquired how the finance minister would be able to take charge of every board, and whether he/she would be dealing with the taxation issues or overall macroeconomic challenges confronting the economy. A committee was constituted to fine-tune the revamp plan before green-lighting the restructuring plan.

A six-member ministerial committee was constituted under Minister for Finance Dr Shamshad Akhtar with the mandate to come up with its report on the plan by January 29. The cabinet also thoroughly discussed the recommendations on restructuring and digitization of the FBR. The recommendations of the committee would be presented in the next cabinet meeting.

The cabinet also approved extension in the tenure of SMS Bank president to three months or till closure of the bank.

On recommendation of the Ministry of National Health, the cabinet also approved the appointment of Professor Dr. Anwar Ali Shah, Principal Shifa College of Dentistry and Shifa Tameer-e-Millat University, as representative of medical colleges on Islamabad Health Regulatory Authority’s registration board.

The meeting also approved the appointment of Dr Dur-e-Shahwar as the representative of a private healthcare establishment on the registration board.

The cabinet on the recommendation of the Ministry of National Health approved the constitution of a search committee, to be headed by minister for health, for appointment of vice chancellor of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto University, Islamabad. The cabinet also approved the ECC decisions taken in its January 19 meeting.