–Federal cabinet decides to remove money laundering suspects’ names after reviewing JIT’s recommendations on case-to-case basis
–Info minister says ‘bitter examples’ like Ishaq Dar’s escape from Pakistan forced govt to take instant action on JIT report
–Cabinet agrees to expedite privatisation of Haveli Bahadur, Lakhra Coal Mine, Services International Hotel along with divestment of govt shares in K-Electric
–Govt forms coordination council to end poverty
ISLAMABAD: Days after the Supreme Court (SC) directed the federal government to reconsider its decision to place 172 people, including Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, on the no-fly list due to their suspected involvement in a mega money laundering case, the federal cabinet on Wednesday decided that the suspects’ names would be removed from the Exit Control List (ECL) after reviewing the JIT’s recommendations on a case-by-case basis.
During the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, it was also decided to not immediately remove the names from the no-fly list.
The cabinet meeting had been called in light of the Supreme Court’s order to review the decision of placement of 172 people on ECL.
The SC had taken strong exception to putting the individuals’ names – particularly that of Sindh chief minister and other eminent politicians – on the ECL and warned that no one will be allowed to derail democracy which is the main component of the constitution.
“The Supreme Court will strike down the governor rule [in Sindh] within seconds, if it will be promulgated against the Constitution,” said the CJP.
Addressing a press conference following a meeting of the federal cabinet, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that the ECL review committee of the Interior Ministry will present a report before the cabinet next week over “why the placement of the names on the ECL should be reviewed”. The final decision in this regard will be made after the report.
Breaking down the process of putting someone’s name on the no-fly list, the information minister said the relevant investigation agency first sends its recommendations to the Interior Ministry. The ministry then forwards the names to the cabinet for implementation, the minister said.
The government followed protocol by placing the 172 suspects on ECL when their names were sent to it by the JIT, he added. It was a “principled” decision to place these people on the no-fly list, he said, adding there were precedents in national politics to support this decision.
Defending the government’s decision, Fawad presented the example of former finance minister Ishaq Dar who fled the country after his name emerged in the Panama Leaks scandal and hasn’t returned since. The cabinet will decide the matter in the light of these “bitter examples”, the minister added.
PRIVATISATION OF FIVE UNITS:
The information minister further said that the cabinet decided to expedite the privatisation of five units, including Haveli Bahadur Shah, Lakhra Coal Mine, Services International Hotel Lahore, divestment of government shares in petroleum companies and K-Electric.
As part of the government’s efforts to end poverty, the cabinet decided to bring all organisations and schemes focused on social issues and poverty alleviation, like the Benazir Income Support Programme and Pakistan Baitul Mal, under the umbrella of the Poverty Alleviation Coordination Council.
Headed by Dr Sania Nishtar, the council will coordinate with all departments to devise a coordinate programme to effectively lift the poor segments of society.
He told reporters that the federal cabinet directed the Statistics Division to monitor the prices of items of daily use regularly and brief the cabinet on a weekly basis. “The Division will monitor and collect data in forty cities,” he added.
The info minister said cabinet also accorded approval to three additional posts of judges in the Islamabad High Court. It will increase the number of judges from six to nine, in addition to the chief justice.
The cabinet also established a committee of Land Bank headed by Defense Minister Pervez Khattak. It will identify 150 prime properties for use in various public sector projects and submit its report to the cabinet in its next meeting. The minister said 9,442 kanal unused land at the federal level, 56,000 kanal in Punjab and 5,258 kanal in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been identified so far.
On Karachi, the minister said it is the economic hub of the country and people of the city have entrusted the incumbent government by voting for it. He said a high-powered committee has been constituted for the development of the metropolis.
Fawad said the cabinet approved a sum of Rs2.8 billion for the construction of Frontier Corps (FC) Headquarters in South and North zones of Balochistan. He said the government has allocated 123 million euro in loans to the Bus Rapid Transport in Peshawar.
The minister said the export duty on jaggery (gurr) has been brought down to 2.5 per cent to enhance local production and export of the commodity.