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September 18, 2019

Cabinet approves special media courts

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September 18, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The government on Tuesday decided to set up special media tribunals to resolve issues relating to media industry and stakeholders, including the government.

It has also been decided to challenge the verdict of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) declaring the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Maryam Nawaz eligible to hold the office of vice president of the party.

These decisions were taken at the federal cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan at the Prime Minister’s Office. Briefing media persons about the decisions of the federal cabinet, Special Assistant to PM on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said that the media tribunals will replace the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority's (Pemra) Council of Complaints to resolve issues pertaining to the media and other stakeholders. The special assistant said that the tribunals would decide the new and pending matters within 90 days. She said a bill in this regard will be tabled in the National Assembly.

Dr Firdous said the higher judiciary will patronise these tribunals. She said all the pending cases with Pemra will be referred to media tribunals. She said Prime Minister Imran Khan and the government believe in facilitation and empowerment of media. He said establishment of media tribunals is an attempt to introduce best practices, norms and code of conduct of the democratic societies of the world. The special assistant said that Prime Minister Imran Khan also took the cabinet into confidence over his upcoming visit to the United States. She said the prime minister apprised the cabinet about his agenda and priorities to highlight the Kashmir issue at the UN General Assembly session and during his interactions with the international leadership and media.

Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said the cabinet has also decided to file a review petition against the Election Commission’s decision declaring Maryam Nawaz eligible to hold office of vice president of the party. She said Maryam Nawaz is a convicted person and cannot hold office of a political party under the law.

Dr Firdous said special benches will be set up for cases registered under the Benami Act, while a performance management system will be introduced for government employees.

The special assistant said the cabinet approved health cards for transgender persons across Pakistan. She said that around 5,000 such people exist in Pakistan and their data is being compiled with the help of Nadra. She said the cabinet decided to establish old-age homes in the name of 'Maskan’ at district level under Ehsas programme for the elderly people in the country. She said first Maskan will be established in Sialkot as a pilot project, which will be replicated in rest of the country at a later stage. The prime minister directed the concerned ministry to prepare priorities in this regard.

Dr Firdous said extension of one-time work visa for Chinese citizens was also approved to ensure unhindered work on development projects being completed with Chinese cooperation in Pakistan. She said the prime minister also directed to fully implement the deadline for filling the vacant posts in various government departments.

The special assistant informed that the cabinet approved transfer of erstwhile Fata’s Zakat funds to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government. She said 244 rehabilitation centres will be established for the treatment of drug addicted people. She said prevention from drugs will be made part of the syllabus to save youth from falling prey to such menace. Regarding growing cases of dengue, Dr Firdous said the federal government has instructed provinces to evolve an effective strategy to control the disease. She said every possible step will be taken to provide medical assistance to patients suffering from dengue.

Dr Firdous said the cabinet approved abolishing premium on purchase of new cars.

Dr Firdous said the cabinet expressed concern over the fact that some elements by taking advantage of freedom of expression were levelling baseless allegations and making propaganda on personal lives of government personalities, including the prime minister and federal ministers. Prime Minister Imran Khan, she said, was of the opinion that positive criticism was vital for the development of a society and better governance, but some elements were using freedom of expression for personal objectives.

The prime minister remarked that some elements were intentionally spreading baseless rumours to fulfil their nefarious designs and a section of media was being used as a tool, she added. She quoted the prime minister as saying that it was being done to create mistrust between the people and the government.

The prime minister was quoted as saying that reforms must be brought to stop the use of media as tool of vested interests. The premier also expressed disappointment over the performance of Pemra which he said was not playing its role effectively.

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