ISLAMABAD: In a move to implement its 100-day plan of ‘change’, the federal cabinet on Tuesday set up six committees to introduce reforms in different sectors and to carve out a new province from Punjab, besides appointing the Intelligence Bureau (IB) director general and the head of National Counterterrorism Authority (Nacta).
The cabinet meeting, which was chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, also decided to expedite the process of the merger of the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).
The cabinet decided to appoint Nacta chairman Dr Mohammad Suleman Khan (a grade-22 officer of the police service) as IB director general, while commandant of the National Police Academy Mehr Khaliq Dad Lak, also a grade 22 officer, has been appointed as Nacta chairman in his place.
Forming a task force for the creation of a new province, the government decided to hold negotiations with two major opposition parties — Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) — in an attempt to seek the support of a two-thirds majority in the national and Punjab assemblies for necessary legislation in this regard.
While briefing the media about the decisions taken at the cabinet meeting, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the task force for the new province in southern Punjab would have Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Federal Minister for Planning Khusro Bakhtiyar as its members. “Both Mr Qureshi and Mr Bakhtiyar will soon meet leaders of N-League and the PPP to seek their support for the passage of legislation required for the creation of the new province.”
New Nacta, IB chiefs appointed; two ministers to seek PPP, PML-N support for a new province
Mr Chaudhry said the creation of a new province was part of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf manifesto. He added that the task force was formed to seek recommendations how significant progress could be achieved during the first 100 days of the PTI-led coalition government.
Another task force was formed on National Accountability Bureau (NAB) law reforms with main focus to retrieve national wealth laundered to other countries. Another task force constituted on Criminal Procedure Code reforms was asked to give its recommendations within 90 days to address the problems being faced by anti-terrorism courts.
Other task forces were set up for introducing austerity measures, reforms in civil services /federal government restructuring, civil laws and the health sector.
One of the important decisions made in the meeting was that the government would not remove any official working on a contractual basis.
The information minister said the prime minister would review performance of the task forces every fortnight.
Regarding China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the minister said that Minister for Planning Khusro Bakhtiyar would soon give a detailed briefing to the prime minister on CPEC projects.
About providing jobs to 10 million people, the minister said the government would not induct 10m people in its departments but would create opportunities where eligible people could apply. He said the government’s adviser for austerity would oversee reforms in the planning department and also make reforms in Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP).
Mr Chaudhry said Law Minister Farogh Nasim would work on NAB laws to suggest amendments to make the bureau more effective. He said necessary amendments would also be made to civil laws to address women inheritance issues and delay in decision of cases.
About a task force to retrieve laundered money from off-shore banks, the minister said NAB prosecutor Shahzad Akbar was heading the task force.
“Mr Akbar has recently visit London and met concerned British officials to get details properties and assets made by Pakistanis there. He will present its report to the prime minister within two weeks,” he disclosed.
The minister said Arbab Shehzad had been assigned the task of early materialisation of Fata’s merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
He said the government would launch a countrywide tree plantation campaign on Sept 2.
PTI govt, army relations
Responding to a question about PTI-led government’s relation with the army, Mr Chuadhry said both were on the same page. “They are not only on the same page but in the same book,” he said in a lighter vein.
The information minister believed that the newly appointed Nacta chairman, Mehr Khaliq Dad Lak, would make the authority a more vibrant and effective organisation.
Adviser to prime minister on climate change Amin Aslam said a total of 192 different points would be established in the country, where saplings would be given to the people free of cost for plantation. “The prime minister will initiate this project here in Islamabad, while the chief ministers will lead the campaign in their respective provinces,” he explained.
In this regard, he said, the provincial governments had been invited to discuss their targets with the Centre.
The adviser said plants pick-up points would be identified through a Facebook page that was being created. “The page will tell people that from where they can collect plants,” he added.
Published in Dawn, August 29th, 2018