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Cabinet approves country’s first national cyber security policy

July 28, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain Tuesday said the federal cabinet approved the country's first national cyber security policy.

He noted that cyber security regimes were emerging in the world and the Ministry of IT had come up with the first policy, which was important for the protection of our data. “The world is rapidly moving towards cyber wars; today we are doing all our banking transactions at ATMs and mobile phones. If the record is hacked, then problems may arise,” he said while briefing the media and replying to their questions about the cabinet meeting, chaired by Premier Imran Khan here.

The minister noted that the first-ever policy had two parts: cyber security and cyber offences. Fawad rejected outright the allegation of rigging by the opposition in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) elections. The federal cabinet and the PM thanked Ali Amin Gandapur, Murad Saeed, Ali Muhammad and Shehryar Afridi among others, who took part in the campaign. The cabinet, he noted, congratulated the prime minister on his victory in Azad Kashmir.

He said the cabinet believed that the success of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in Azad Kashmir was a sign of public confidence in the policies of Prime Minister Imran Khan. The minister pointed out that a press conference was being held at the Prime Minister's House in Azad Kashmir and the prime minister was crying that “now that I have lost, the election was rigged”.

He said “if you have your own government, your own election commission and then you lose the election, then what is the solution if it is rigged”. The minister said that this is why Prime Minister Imran Khan talks of moving towards technology. “When all staff is employed by you, you still do not believe, and you are saying that rigging is taking place, then the only solution is to move towards technology,” he said while addressing the opposition. The cabinet held deliberations on the security provided and a detailed briefing was given to the cabinet in this regard. Interestingly, the lowest security expenditure was being borne by the federal cabinet ad revealed that the judiciary was spending the most on security.

He explained that 762 police personnel, 14 Rangers and FC personnel had been deployed by the Federal Capital Territory Police for the security of the president, prime minister, governors, chief ministers, ministers of state, advisors and special assistants at a cost of Rs700 million.

The minister continued that 377 police personnel had been deployed in Islamabad for the security of judges and the expenditure on them is Rs287 million. In Lahore, Rs114.3 million was being spent on the security of the judiciary and in all, Rs1400 million was being spent on the judiciary, which did not include Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan. Therefore, the cost of security of judges would probably go up to Rs1600-1700 million.

Elaborating on the cabinet meeting, he said that the expenditure incurred by the Punjab police was Rs446 million. Interestingly, on our former civil and police personnel or government employees, or former prime ministers and presidents, Rs300 million are being spent.

He said that it has become a tradition here that the secretaries and IGs, who retire, carry a large number of personnel with them, as well as a total of Rs109.7 million and the federal government spends a total of Rs1098.08 million on security of important government figures on annual basis.

The minister noted that the annual security expenditure of the Punjab government was Rs2,529 million and KP police was spending Rs993 million. He added that the PM had ordered to formulate a new security system and the federal cabinet had decided that threat committees would be formed, in the federation, Punjab, Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and now in Kashmir where the PTI government is to form government. He said that the committees would be formed there to review individual threats and security arrangements would be made accordingly.

He said that the decision would save millions of rupees and the attorney general and the law minister would talk to the judiciary in this regard and move forward accordingly as the security of judges was important for the PTI government.

About electronic voting, he said that Advisor on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan briefed the cabinet in that regard and matters with the opposition were moving forward in a cordial manner. The speaker had gone abroad to Azerbaijan and on his return, the government wanted the committee to move forward.

He said that the cabinet had empowered the Board of Investment to start the process of enactment of new laws by removing obsolete laws for the convenience of businessmen, companies and especially new business start-ups.

The minister said that the cabinet allowed dual citizenship with the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic had amended the law for Pakistan and now the Pakistani government had also given permission in that regard.

He said that the cabinet had approved the government Advertising Policy 2021, in which for the first time in the last 3 months, it had happened that the government had zero payments, while the advertisements were given by the government to newspapers and TV, payments were made immediately to them.

The minister said that the government had paid all the money, but still some media houses were not paying salaries. “If anyone has any problem, they will also fix it, because the salaries of technical workers should not be withheld at all.

“We are working on legislation for this purpose, but the institutions should also take care of themselves and pay their workers,” suggested the minister. He said that an important policy had been formulated and for the first time in the history of Pakistan, digital media would have access to government advertisements. At present, digital advertisements have reached Rs25 billion. “The FBR has not formulated any policy on this, but we have modernised it.”