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Wednesday February 28, 2024

Cabinet decides committee to review ECL

The cabinet also approved a summary presented by the ECL committee, deciding that in future it would take decisions regarding addition and removal of names from the list after reviewing the Terms of Reference

April 21, 2022
PM Shehbaz chairing his first federal cabinet meeting in Islamabad on April 20, 2022. Photo: PID
PM Shehbaz chairing his first federal cabinet meeting in Islamabad on April 20, 2022. Photo: PID 

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Wednesday approved the formation of a four-member committee comprising federal ministers Ayaz Sadiq, Azam Nazir Tarar, Naveed Qamar and Murtaza Mehmood, to review the Exit Control List issues.

The federal cabinet also approved a summary presented by the ECL committee, deciding that in future it (cabinet) would take decisions regarding addition and removal of names from the list after reviewing the Terms of Reference (ToRs).

The committee will be responsible to make changes and overview other matters regarding the list. The committee, formed to review the ECL, would be chaired by Minister for Law Azam Nazir Tarar, so that the law could not be used to malign and victimise politicians, businessmen and others.

The federal cabinet also approved a summary, removing the name of Minister for Finance and Revenue Miftah Ismail from the Exit Control List (ECL), according to media reports. He left for Washington on Wednesday night to engage with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the Seventh Review of the stalled programme. The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Reza Baqir has also reached Washington for parleys.

The federal cabinet also decided to appoint Muhammad Tahir Rai as the new director general (DG) of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and remove Sanaullah Abbasi, who was appointed the FIA DG by the Imran Khan government.

Minister for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb said the Imran Khan government did not spare even the FIA for victimising political opponents. “The last prime minister also used the FIA against Shehbaz Sharif because of his personal ego and personal jealousy,” he said.

Giving details of the cabinet meeting decisions, Minister for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb later told the media that the committee would give a report in three days to the federal cabinet for changes and review in law relating to the ECL and would also brief the cabinet as to how the same was misused by the past government.

She said that the last ECL committee was constituted on Sept 22, 2020 at the behest of Special Assistant on Accountability Shahzad Akbar to victimise political opponents. “This is the committee which used different ways of watchlist, stoplist and ECL to exasperate the opponents,” she said.

The information minister said names of political opponents were used to be included or excluded from the stoplist and watchlist on directives of the PM, without seeking approval from the federal cabinet. She said the Imran Khan government continued to put names of political opponents, bureaucrats, businessmen and industrialists on the watchlist and stoplist under the pretext of fake cases due to the NAB-Niazi nexus. “It is also a fact that when cases of these people were taken up in courts, they were granted bails and no charges against them were proved,” she added.

Marriyum said the Imran Khan government used the FIA for victimisation of political opponents. “Former prime minister also used the FIA against Shehbaz Sharif because of his personal ego and personal jealousy,” she alleged.

The minister said the cabinet also decided to reduce the price of 10-kg flour bag from Rs550 to Rs400 and price of sugar from Rs75 per kilogram to Rs70 at the Utility Stores and in the market.

Earlier, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said there was no magic wand to achieve the desired objectives, except for continuous hard work and dedication to steer the country out of the current financial crises. He was chairing his maiden meeting of the federal cabinet, where the ministers were briefed on the economic situation, energy, and law and order situation in the country, a day after 33 federal ministers and three advisers took charge of their offices. Shehbaz congratulated the parliament members for ousting Imran Khan and his government.

“I call it a war cabinet as we are fighting against inflation, unemployment and poverty which we inherited from the previous government,” he said. The cabinet would have to work on a war footing to deal with these challenges. “We will have to respond to propaganda through facts, which would ultimately bury the lies,” he added.

PM Shehbaz Sharif promised that the federal cabinet would work in unison to take the sinking ship of economy to safe shores. He said the cabinet had experienced members, who made great sacrifices in the past. “I want to thank the leadership [of all coalition parties] for giving you this responsibility,” he told the cabinet members, suggesting that they should work hard to come up to expectations of people. “We have to struggle against challenges like poverty, unemployment and inflation, as the previous government failed miserably in its fight against hardships,” PM Shehbaz reiterated. He told the cabinet members that the new government had to take decisions that are in favour of people — as a “coalition of all known parties is historic” — and steps should be taken which will be in the best interest of people.

On the provincial issues, the premier said problems need to be identified in Balochistan. “We need to pay full attention to the problems of the Baloch people and other provinces,” he added.

PM Shehbaz said that the opposition’s criticism of the government was unjustified, as corruption was at its peak during the three-and-a-half years of the PTI government. “The only way out for the current government to move forward is hard work, hard work and hard work,” he added.

Shehbaz said that besides politicians, the bureaucracy also faced huge pressure from the previous government, which wanted them to act as approvers against the then opposition parties. “You will have to go all out to take on the challenges of inflation, unemployment, poverty and loadshedding, for turning desperation into an opportunity of progress and public relief,” Shehbaz said.

Shehbaz Sharif, meanwhile, tweeted that unfortunately it was due to poor economic conditions inherited from the past government that he was unable to fulfill his desire of helping out people. “But still, we at the cabinet meeting, decided to reduce the price of 10-kg flour bag from Rs550 to Rs400 and price of sugar from Rs75 per kilogram to Rs70 at Utility Stores and market,” he said.

Marriyum Aurangzeb also said in a tweet that Imran Khan’s tenure was marred by corruption and that was the reality of Naya Pakistan. Quoting the figures, she said that in fiscal year 2017-18, GDP growth stood at 6.1 per cent, which fell to only 4pc in 2021-22. She said that in 2017-18, the CPI inflation was at 3.9pc, which shot up to 10.9pc in 2021-22 whereas the SPI inflation, which was at 0.9pc in 2017-18, increased to 17.3pc. The food inflation, which stood at 2.3pc during 2017-18, shot up to 10.2pc, she added.