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February 19, 2020

ISI, IB, FIA to monitor prices crackdown: Agencies fielded to knock out smuggling

Top Story

February 19, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday directed for a large-scale crackdown on smuggling of edibles and other commodities and asked the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to present related monitoring report to him regularly.

The prime minister asked the Ministry of Interior, law-enforcement agencies of the federal government and provincial governments and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to collectively take action against the menace of smuggling. He directed the Ministry of Interior to present a report within 48 hours about the related measures and a comprehensive strategy on the matter.

He emphasised that keeping in view the recommendations of the task force, formed to combat smuggling, short-term, medium-term and long-term measures should be initiated.

The decision was taken here at a high-level meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan and participated by Minister for National Food Security Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Minister for Planning Asad Umar, Adviser on Commerce and Trade Abdul Razak Dawood, Secretary Interior, secretary National Food Security, acting chairman FBR and provincial home secretaries and other senior officials.

The meeting took stock of the demand and supply of essential commodities and their prices with particular reference to their smuggling. The report on progress so far made on establishment of markets at the western border was also presented at the meeting. The prime minister directed for accelerating the pace of establishment of markets. Imran Khan observed that because of smuggling of food items, the common man was facing difficulties and this was in no way acceptable.

“The menace of smuggling is causing loss of billions to the national economy. Combating this menace is in the national interest,” he contended. He said the prices of food items must be brought down by up to 20 percent. He gave a deadline to the hoarders to bring items to open market within 10 days or face action.

The prime minister made it clear that no negligence would be tolerated with regard to smuggling. As regards the Iranian oil, he called for thrashing out a comprehensive strategy in this connection. Moreover, the prime minister called for making full use of technology in anti-smuggling efforts. Earlier, while chairing a meeting on provision of health, education and other families in the federal capital, the prime minister asserted that no negligence would be tolerated in provision of the best possible healthcare facilities to masses. He said that all resources would be provided to ensure quality of education.

The prime minister also directed the secretary health to pay special attention to making administration of public sector hospitals fully functional. He directed to meeting the shortage of manpower in hospitals and ensuring provision of medicines therein.

Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood gave briefing to the meeting on the measures taken so far to bring about improvement in 423 public sector schools and colleges of the federal capital.

The prime minister directed to take steps to meet shortage of teachers in the schools, and added, “Since it is the matter of our future, we should consider education as an emergency and take all the requisite steps to bring improvement in it.”

Imran Khan directed that a roadmap be prepared for provision of quality education in all the schools and colleges of the federal capital. He also emphasised the need for paying special attention to the education of girls.

Regarding encroachments in parks and green areas of the federal capital, the prime minister directed the Capital Development Authority (CDA) chairman that those violating the rules of the civic authority in the residential colonies should be identified so that action could be initiated against violators.

Discussing the law and order situation of Islamabad, Imran Khan directed to establish complaint management system in every police station.

He directed the interior minister to review the manpower and financial requirements of Islamabad Police so that requisite steps could be taken to make the federal capital a model city in terms of its security.

Meanwhile, chairing another meeting, Imran Khan said the government will consider every option to provide relief to public with regard to the prices of petrol, diesel and gas, asking the Ministry of Petroleum to prepare a roadmap of recommendations at the earliest in this context.

The meeting focused on how to possibly provide relief to the people vis-à-vis tariff of petroleum, diesel and gas. The forum also held deliberations on bringing about stability in their prices. The meeting held on Monday had also discussed various proposals to provide relief to masses.

Addressing the meeting, the prime minister said, “Our basic objective is to provide relief to masses, particularly to the low-income segments of the society, as much as possible. The government is fully aware of the fact that the low-income groups and the salaried class are facing difficulties and our utmost effort is to provide relief in relation to power and gas tariff.”

The premier pointed out that the past rulers had signed illogical and long-term agreements, which resulted in burden on the masses. However, he said that despite these factors, the government could not remain a silent spectator to the difficulties, being faced by the people and would ponder over every option to provide relief to them.

The prime minister directed the special assistant on petroleum to prepare a comprehensive roadmap as early as possible and recommendations on this count must be presented so that those, implementable, could be implemented without delay.

Meanwhile, presiding over a meeting to review social media rules, Imran Khan said the new rules were not prepared to curb freedom of expression or victimise political opponents.

He said the new rules are being introduced only to protect citizens and regulate social media in the country. He said that the United Kingdom, Singapore and other countries were also introducing such laws to protect their citizens and ensure security measures.

On the occasion, Imran Khan directed the authorities concerned to take all stakeholders on board ahead of implementing the rules. The meeting also reviewed response and feedback on the regulations and its impact on freedom of expression.

Officials from the Ministry of Information, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Law, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and other relevant authorities were present in the meeting.