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December 11, 2019

No more media access for convicts

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December 11, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Cabinet on Tuesday expressed its displeasure at unnecessary projection of absconders and convicted criminals and telecast of their statements on news channels by certain media outlets.

The cabinet met here with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair. The cabinet was of the view that there was no precedent in any civilized society to allow criminals involved in plundering billions of rupees from the national exchequer to use the media as a tool. Briefing the media persons about the cabinet’s decisions, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said the government would soon bring a law to outlaw the projection of absconders and convicted criminals as messiahs in the print and electronic media.

She said Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda informed the cabinet that he had written a letter to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) drawing its attention towards this serious issue.

The law ministry, she said, was directed to devise a mechanism in coordination with the Pemra and media stakeholders to curb this practice. The federal cabinet opposed sending the PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz abroad.

Faisal Vawda strongly opposed allowing Maryam to go abroad and urged the government not to exclude her name from the Exit Control List (ECL).

Several ministers, including the prime minister, agreed with his opinion. She said Prime MinisterImran Khan expressed dissatisfaction with the performance of Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) and directed it to ensure food security in the country and punish the hoarders and profiteering cartels.

She said the prime minister had summoned the CCP high-ups for a briefing on hoarding of flour and sugar and its role in controlling this practice. The cabinet was informed that most of the laws related to food security were obsolete and there was no harmony between the federation and the provinces in this regard.

She said the prime minister observed that the CCP had failed to ensure food security and issued directives with a time-line for its reforms and empowerment. She said the law ministry was directed to pursue cases of stay orders by the mill cartels dealing with edibles.

The cabinet also requested the superior judiciary to decide such cases on priority, as they were related to the public interest. The prime minister also expressed displeasure over the vacant post of a member of CCP tribunal, which was hampering its functioning and directed that it be filled at the earliest.

Moreover, the cabinet constituted a committee, headed by Dr Ishrat Hussain, to amend food security laws in the country. The committee would present its report in one month which would be approved by the cabinet as food security policy to get rid of elements involved in hoarding and adulteration of edible items.

The Water and Power Division informed the cabinet that circular debt was very high when the PTI government came to power, which was brought down by the government. The cabinet was informed that Rs242 billion subsidy was given to protect consumers using up to 300 electricity units from fuel adjustment effects.

She said the industrial sector was given Rs29 billion subsidy whereas Rs100 billion subsidy was given to agriculture sector. She said the prime minister also directed the Water and Power Division to bring the summary of fixed billing for tube-well farmers in the next meeting.

The cabinet also asked the Division to take steps for redressing the consumers’ reservations about tampering of meters by the Disco employees putting additional burden on them. The cabinet appreciated the Water and Power Division for controlling line losses and taking steps to introduce regulatory mechanism in Discos.

The Oil and Gas Division informed the cabinet that it inherited Rs181billion deficit due to bad policies of the previous government but it formulated a structural plan to save the consumers from a major increase in the gas bills.

The cabinet was informed that Rs10billion subsidy was given to the fertilizer industry to ensure stability in the prices of fertilizers. The domestic consumers were given Rs19 billion subsidy last year whereas the estimate of the subsidy for ongoing year was Rs30 billion.

Firdous said the Oil and Gas Division was directed to activate its redundant meter manufacturing industry to reduce the extra cost of gas meters bought from the market. The cabinet strongly condemned Indian Lok Sabha for passing the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 to offer citizenship to the people belonging to different religions living in different countries.

“This legislation exposes the so-called secular face of the Indian government and its pragmatic depiction of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideology,” she added. The cabinet approved transformation of all the federal government hospitals into state-of-the-art healthcare facilities equipped with the latest medical gadgets.

The respective hospitals for the purpose could bring any technical change in their building structures from any institution other than PWD (Public Works Department). The cabinet also approved the appointment of Justice Abdullah Baloch of Balochistan High Court as Special Judge of Appellant Court Balochistan to curb smuggling in the province, which was hindering the local industry’s growth.

The cabinet also approved the appointment of Irfan Mustafa, Zulqarnain Ali Khan and Haris Chaudhry as members of the Board of Governors of Overseas Pakistanis Foundation, and reconstitution of the governing body of Workers Welfare Fund.

It also approved additional charge of director general Civil Aviation Authority to Secretary Aviation Hassan Nasir Jamy. It approved signing of a memorandum of understanding with Afghanistan for cooperation on narcotics control. The cabinet also offered Fateha for Shaheed Colonel Suleman, the hero of 1971 war.

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