ISLAMABAD: The government Tuesday strongly condemned the attack by the PTM activists on a military check-post in Kharkamar area of North Waziristan and warned of strict action against those out to play with the national security and dignity. The warning came during a federal cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan here.
The cabinet decided in emphatic terms that zero tolerance would be shown towards a handful of those conspiring to put the national dignity, image and security at stake.
The cabinet expressed solidarity with the armed forces and offered Fateha for an FC jawan martyred in the incident.
Speaking to reporters after the cabinet meeting, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information and Broadcasting Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan recalled that tribal people had rendered innumerable sacrifices for peace and stability of Pakistan. She, however, regretted that certain elements through their acts had put the peace and prosperity of tribal areas at stake.
She reminded that the prime minister had announced Rs102 billion worth of development schemes to heal the wounds of tribal people.
She said the prime minister had also brought the tribal people into the main political process and his initiative also started a new chapter of peace and development in areas which were once considered ‘no go areas’.
Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan said incidents such as attack on the security check-post was a conspiracy to impede the development of tribal districts.
She said the cabinet expressed reservations about the acts of a handful of these militants and decided that the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments and entire Pakistan will stand shoulder to shoulder for protection of tribal people’s rights.
She said the prime minister had already asked the provinces to contribute three percent from the NFC to meet the development needs of tribal districts.
The cabinet reviewed implementation of decisions taken in the last 42 sittings.
Firdous said of the 819 decisions taken by the cabinet, 584 (decisions) were implemented, while implementation of the remaining had been made time-bound. The prime minister directed the relevant ministers to fulfill their responsibilities for implementation of decisions taken in the best interest of public welfare.
Secretary Cabinet Division informed the meeting that a mechanism had been put in place to ensure progress on the federal cabinet decisions.
Firdous said the contours of federal budget were presented before the cabinet. She said the federal budget, to be announced on June 11, will focus on stabilising the national economy.
She said the budget will contain measures to reduce the current account deficit and fiscal deficit, control expenditures, create platform for economic growth and protect vulnerable segment of the society.
She said the provincial governments had been taken on board to address the economic challenges facing the country.
Firdous said the programme prepared by the economic team of the government had started showing positive results.
She said rupee was appreciating against dollar and the stock market had also witnessed a bullish trend.
She said the prime minister had directed preparation of an effective export policy. She said the government had also planned to revive sick industrial units and promote the local industry.
She said the upcoming budget would be based on austerity in all state institutions and exhorted the nation to also tighten their belt, hinting at the tough times ahead.
Speaking on the Haj policy, she said the Haj quota for Pakistan had been increased on the desire of Prime Minister Imran Khan with the addition of 15,790 pilgrims.
She said the prime minster directed provision of maximum facilities to the intending pilgrims and ensuring transparency in the process.
She said the cabinet had decided to engage the cigarette industry to the maximum level so that the funds could be used for better healthcare. She said the case of irregularities in Kachhi Canal had been given to FIA for inquiry.
She regretted that a political party did not change its posture even on Youm-e-Takbeer marked on Wednesday.
“Days like Youm-e-Takbeer must unite us for defense, security and interest of Pakistan. These political pygmies used the occasion to criticize Prime Minister Imran Khan for their own political interests. The opposition parties want to make the accountability process controversial,” she said.
When asked about the protest of media workers outside the Parliament House, the special assistant said the government will clear all the outstanding dues of the last five years to the media houses.
She however said no release would be made to the media houses until they gave a letter to us that it will be used to clear the salaries of media workers. She said the government will protect the interests of media workers.
Firdous said the prime minister expressed his serious concern over increase in incidents of child abuse as a result of increase in misuse of Internet for child pornography.
She said Prime Minister Khan directed the ministers for human rights, law, and interior to examine the existing juvenile laws with regard to sexual violence, sexual exploitation, rape of children, and other violent behaviours.
The prime minister suggested death penalty for all those engaging in exploitation of children.
Firdous said the budget for the upcoming fiscal year will be announced on June 11. She said the budget strategy and policy document was placed before the cabinet.
She said cigarettes and soft drinks would also be taxed in the upcoming budget.
She said the government was focusing on health issues and the cabinet after discussed the health hazards posed by smoking.
It was decided to generate more revenue from the cigarette industry so that the accrued amount could be spent on prevention measures in the health sector.
She said the cabinet considered a mechanism for running hospitals in provinces which were handed over to the Cabinet Division by the Supreme Court.
The law, health and finance ministries would devise a budget support mechanism to protect rights of staff working in those hospitals.
She said Saudi King Salman on the request of Prime Minister Imran Khan increased Haj quota for Pakistanis by 15,790.
Firdous said this time 20,000 Pakistani pilgrims would be given immigration clearance at Islamabad Airport, while later on this facility would be made available at other airports.
The cabinet also pointed out the misuse of 31 state properties and emphasised that this unlawful practice must be curbed.
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