Cabinet wants PM Imran to take firm action against TLP protests

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to take firm action against rioters.

Briefing the media on the cabinet meeting, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said that the cabinet viewed that demands can be discussed but dictation is not in favour of the state in any case.

“Decisions of the state cannot be left to any group,” said the minister referring to the countrywide protests by workers of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) to press for their demand to send back the French ambassador.

A government source told Pakistan Today that the federal cabinet viewed that the prime minister has presented the case of Muslims’ love and respect for Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) effectively at international and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) levels, asking all to understand the deep love Muslims have for Holy Prophet (PBUH).

The source said that the cabinet members believed that Pakistan has just started its journey on the path of economic recovery after battling the menace of terrorism and losing over 70,000 lives.

“Multiple efforts have been made by the enemies of Pakistan to de-track Pakistan from its new journey through religious and sectarian agitations and protests. TLP has been protesting in the past on account of various cases relating to blasphemy. As per the last agreement signed with the TLP, the government had to initiate steps towards ousting of French ambassador through tabling a bill in the parliament by April 20, 2021,” the source said.

The source said that pre-empting likely law and order situation following the announcement of TLP leader to march on Islamabad, the federal government has taken Saad Rizvi in protective custody in Lahore on April 12 sparking protests and blockade across country.

“The cabinet feels that in the garb of this respect, gangs of people cannot be allowed to take the laws in their hands and dictate terms to the government. Pakistan must stand in the comity of the nations with respect, thus demonstrating sane and law-base actions,” the source added.

The source said that the cabinet was informed that few quarters are trying to baselessly implicate armed forces in these protests.

“The cabinet believed that infighting between the masses and the forces is never advisable and should be avoided to the utmost. However, the will of the gangs cannot be implemented as per their wish,” the source said.

The sources said the cabinet said that the TLP leadership and members should play wisdom and patience. The source said that cabinet urged the prime minister that the authorities should show strength wisely tackling the issue preferably without confrontation. The issue should be debated in the parliament and clear course of action should be devised to tackle the situation politically, the source added.

CABINET RESHUFFLE IN FINAL STAGES:

Fawad told media that the cabinet reshuffle was in its final stage and the decisions would be shared soon.

PDM – AN ALLIANCE WITHOUT A FOUNDATION:

Referring to PDM, Fawad said that PDM also expelled Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) from WhatsApp group, and this is a symbol of childish politics. It is a quarrel between them, he asserted.

“PDM is an alliance without a foundation cannot last long, as we have already predicted. It is a vehicle whose brakes are in one hand and the engine is in the other’s control,” he said. He said that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) should reconsider their attitudes.

“We have already given suggestions regarding electoral reforms. The politics of resignations is over, and these people are not ready to back down from their ego,” the federal minister said, adding that the government is ready to hold separate talks with PML-N, JUI-F and PPP on electoral reforms.

CRITICAL DECISIONS:

The federal minister said that a briefing was given to the cabinet regarding two projects in Lahore. A new 318-acre commercial center will be set up in Walton in the next 18 months. Mangoes and precious stones will be registered, he added.

Fawad said that the cabinet proceedings have been digitised and all cabinet members will be given tablets from next week. Rs510 million were spent annually on paperwork of the cabinet meeting which would be saved in future, he added.

Giving an overview over the government’s efforts to control coronavirus pandemic, Fawad said that Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar briefed the cabinet on the current situation of Covid-19 and its spread. The minister added that the federal minister had told the cabinet that if the current Covid-19 situation did not improve in two weeks, there was a risk of further spread of virus in Sindh and Balochistan.

“Covid-19 cases are on the rise in Sindh and Balochistan. If SOPs are not observed, the coronavirus can spread rapidly,” he warned.  He said that the report of the National Economic Council for the year 2019-20 was presented to the federal cabinet.

The cabinet ratified the decision taken by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), including the decisions taken by the committee on March 31, while decisions of March 18 on Institutional Reforms and March 26 of the Energy Committee were also approved.

The meeting was also briefed on the Ministry of Planning on the economic situation. The cabinet approved summary on reduction of port charges. The meeting also approved the appointments of chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women while Registration of Production of Agro and Non-Agro Products was also approved.

Approval was also accorded for the appointment of the chairman and members of the National Commission for Human Rights while amendment of the visa policy on fees for medical categories and abolition of visa fees for diplomats and officials on official duty was also approved.

An amendment to the Visitors Policy Regulatory Framework and Rules of Business, 1973, was also approved. The meeting also approved the appointment of CEO of Karachi Tools Dies and Molds Center and Pakistan Stone Development Company. Approval for setting up of a center in Sector G10 to facilitate legal proceedings and report on implementation of gas schemes under the present regime was presented in the cabinet, summary of additional charge of CEO of Alternative Energy Development Board was also approved.

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Mian Abrar
The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He can be reached at [email protected]

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