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April 14, 2021

Cabinet meeting: Dictation from any party or group indigestible, says Fawad

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April 14, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Science and Technology Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said on Tuesday that dictation from any party or group was indigestible.

Briefing media persons after the federal cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, the minister said a party or a group can present their demands in a democratic way upon which negotiations can be held.

Replying to a question regarding TLP’s demands, Fawad Hussain said decision-making could not be left to any party or group.

When his attention was drawn to violence and agitation in various parts of Pakistan, the minister emphasised that things would be fine soon.

“No group or party must even think of dictating to a government or state and if the state allows this, then it will disintegrate and there will be chaos,” he said.

Any student group, lawyers’ body or religious scholars group, he said, could present their demands and there could be talks thereon in a democratic manner, but no dictation at all. The government, he said, wanted peace and tranquility and did not want creation of any law and order situation.

He added that it was highly improper to hinder movement of oxygen cylinders, as already some 4,100 coronavirus patients needed extreme care. “Special arrangements are being made for smooth transportation of cylinders. Pakistan is the fifth largest state and we cannot leave it to groups or parties to dictate their decisions,” he said.

To a question about the Pakistan Democratic Movement, he said five of the eight parties had no member in the Parliament. Therefore, the government would like to talk to the PMLN, ANP and JUIF on reforms -- particularly the electoral reforms, Fawad Hussain said. He added that the opposition parties might come up with their packages on this subject and the government would hold talks with them.

Fawad said the narrative of sending the government home had been completely buried after the demise of the PDM. He recalled to have had predicted that the alliance was not based on any ideology and was meant for petty gains and hence would not remain intact for a long time. He said now the PDM had become of relic of the past, so the opposition should end the politics of resignations from the assemblies.

He said as the PPP had stake in the system it was against the resignations and the PMLN and JUIF also should reconsider their future strategy.

He said the PMLN leadership had expelled PPP leaders Sherry Rehman and Qamar Zaman Kaira from the WhatsApp group.

About the developments concerning Jahangir Khan Tareen, the minister acknowledged that he was an important PTI leader and had relations with people, who will definitely go when they are invited by him (JKT). “There is no problem in it as such,” he said.

Fawad Hussain said Tareen was not alone in facing cases. Already ministers, including Abdul Aleem Khan and Sibtain Khan faced cases, went to jail, obtained bail and fought cases while Babar Awan also resigned and was back again, he said.

About inflation, he claimed that there was already a trend of fall in prices of sugar and flour while the sales at the Utility Stores was touching Rs1 billion -- which was unprecedented -- and this year, the Utility Stores Corporation would become a sustainable entity.

On the question of a reshuffle in the federal cabinet, the minister said the process was in the final stage and it was Prime Minister Imran Khan’s prerogative under Article 90 of the Constitution to decide on ministers and their ministries.

Fawad Hussain said the digitalisation process of the cabinet had been completed and it would help save Rs510 million annually. He said from next week cabinet members would get tablets and the agenda would be shared digitally. He said he would request the speaker National Assembly and the Senate chairman to expedite the process of both the houses’ paperless proceedings as early as possible.

He said the cabinet was given a briefing on the current COVID-19 situation by Minister for Planning Asad Umar. The cabinet was told that in the third phase the number of critical patients was 4,200, which was much more than the previous phases. The planning minister informed the cabinet that the next two weeks were crucial and following precautions was vital. Sindh and Balochistan had the highest ratio, the members were told.

He said a logistic committee of the cabinet headed by Ali Zaidi has been constituted regarding import of coronavirus vaccine.

The cabinet, Fawad Hussain said, also gave approval to establishment of the Central Business District in Lahore that would comprise two projects -- Walton Road project comprising 350 acres and Wahdat Colony project of 270 acres. He said work on the public-private partnership projects would start within 18 months.

The cabinet gave approval for creation of the Registration and Protection Authority for registration of mangoes and citrus produce. Similarly, precious stones would be registered by the Mineral Development Authority.

He said succession certificates used to be a big issue for overseas Pakistanis as they had to come to Pakistan and get the same from the courts but now the NADRA system would be installed in embassies for issuance of succession certificates.

The minister said the cabinet gave approval to the proposal of Litigants Facilitation Centre in Islamabad and the Capital Development Authority would build this building.

Fawad Hussain said rules of business have been amended to empower the ministries so that they can make their own decisions.

The cabinet gave approval to midterm budget strategy paper, which was presented before it. The cabinet was informed that exports have reached the $18.7 billion mark whereas they stood at $17.4 billion last year. Imports worth $39.5 billion were recorded this fiscal year whereas last year they stood at $34.5 billion. He added that remittances had reached a record $21.5 billion, which was a proof of the overseas Pakistanis’ trust in the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The minister said that large scale manufacturing has reached $7.9 billion this year. The minister noted that the economic growth has reached the three per cent mark which would reach 5.1 per cent by 2023-24.

Fawad Hussain said the foreign exchange reserves were now enough for three and a half months’ requirements. He said in the coming Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) special additions would be made and disparity in the salaries would be addressed.

The minister said the Zaireen Management policy and reduction in students’ visa fee were also approved. The forum also approved establishment of a registration authority to get geographical indicator tags for Pakistan's agricultural and non-agricultural products to maintain their Pakistani identity.

He said geographical indicator tag for Pakistani mangoes, precious gems and other products would be acquired for their protection as Pakistani products in the international market.