ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani the federal cabinet meeting Wednesday formed two separate committees to look into the issues of law and order situation in Karachi and the Baloch missing persons.
Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, while briefing the media on the proceedings of the meeting, said Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim would head the committee on Karachi and Sindh. Federal ministers Naveed Qamar, Syed Khursheed Shah and Moula Bux Chandio will be the members of the body.
He further said Law Minister Farooq H Naek would chair the second committee, which would look into the missing persons cases in Balochistan, also comprising three federal cabinet members from Balochistan.
To a question on the absence of MQM’s ministers, the Kaira said it was not a protest as they could not attend the meeting due to their busy schedule.
On the Balochistan issue, he said any operation was not the solution to the problem and the government had already apologised to the Baloch people, adding that the PPP always preferred dialogue even with the terrorists.
Kaira said imposition of emergency was the sole prerogative of the executive and the powers could not be exercised by any other institution or state organ. He was responding to a question regarding Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s remarks on Balochistan. He said the comments should not be interpreted in a sense that the court was going to impose emergency in the province, adding that the government always welcomed guidance from everyone, including the court.
Talking about the involvement of the political parties, which are not in the Parliament, in the procedure of the appointment of chief election commissioner (CEC), he said the appointment would be made according to the Constitution of Pakistan.
Answering a query about Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s reference against Mian Nawaz Sharif, Kaira said the reference was neither political victimisation nor a new move, adding that the reference was an old one. “We have a free judiciary and the PML-N always gets justice,” he remarked.
To a question regarding western media reports terming President Zardari’s recent visit to Chicago a failure, the minister said the trip was not aimed at a bilateral meeting. “He was there to attend a summit and the invitation was unconditional. Our point of view has prevailed. We are in dialogue with the US and the government will follow the Parliament’s guideline. The summit was not a platform to ask US for apology”, he commented. He also denied any incident of exchanging hot words between Moula Bux Chandio and Rehman Malik during the cabinet meeting.
Earlier, Premier Gilani told the cabinet that the federal government held the apex court in high esteem and he had directed his principal and the cabinet secretaries to appear before the court in Quetta.
The meeting congratulated the president on his successful participation in the Chicago summit and acknowledged his role in presenting Pakistan’s principled stand on various issues related to the Nato.
It also expressed satisfaction over the outcome of the visit of the Turkish prime minister to Pakistan and appreciated his address to the Parliament for expressing his understanding with the stance taken by Pakistan on the Nato issues.
The chairman of the cabinet committee on energy gave a presentation on energy situation in the country. The prime minister directed that the Law Ministry should draft necessary legislation to deal severely with the issues of power theft, defaulters and recovery.
The Cabinet meeting reviewed the implementation status of its decisions pertaining to State and Frontier Regions Division and Board of Investment. The cabinet was informed that 67 per cent of its decisions pertaining to the States and Frontier Regions had been implemented so far and the remaining were under the process, while 84 per cent of the directives pertaining to the Board of Investment had already been implemented.
The cabinet approved the confirmation of the decisions taken by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) in its meeting held on May 15. The Finance Division gave a presentation on the Consumer Price Index to oversee/discuss the trend of prices of essential commodities.
The cabinet considered and accorded its approval to the signing of draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Military Technical Cooperation between the General Interim Committee for Defence in the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and the Ministry of Defence in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. On its signing, it will pave the way for broad based military cooperation between the two countries.
The meeting also approved for amendment in the Federal Employees Benevolent Fund and Group Insurance Act, 1969 (Act-II of 1969). The proposal to amend Section 4(1 )(c) of the act to be introduced by Law and Justice Division through an official bill is placed before the cabinet for its consideration/approval in terms-of Rule-2’7(S)(a)(i) of the Rules of Business, 1973.
The cabinet also considered and gave its approval for membership of the Inter-Governmental Organization for international Carriage by Rail (OTIF) and Accession (signing) of the Convention Concerning International Carriage by Rail (COTIF).
The cabinet in a meeting on December 15, 2010 had approved, in principle, a proposal of the Ministry of Railways for the membership. The OTIF currently has 43 member states in Europe, North Africa, the Near East and Asia and has also entered into a joint venture with the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) with specific reference to Iran and Turkey.
The member states having acceded to the convention comply with uniform rules of international carriage, use of rail infrastructure and facilitation of technical standards. A one-time concession from the convention rules was allowed to operate the demonstration train on Istanbul-Tehran- Islamabad route on August 14, 2009 from Islamabad.
The cabinet also approved the signing of draft, convention between the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the Government of the Republic of Seychelles for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.
The Convention for avoidance of Double Taxation between the two countries will not only provide safeguards against double taxation on the incomes of the residents of the two countries, but also will also promote economic cooperation and strengthen bilateral economic relations. It will also provide adequate certainty in respect of taxation rules applicable to cross-border business transactions, dividends, interest and royalties etc.