Government to recover money spent on lavish foreign visits by past rulers

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  • Federal cabinet gives a nod to dual-nationals contesting elections. 

  • Prime Minister also directs the cabinet to prevent artificial price hike. 

  • The government will recover expenses spend on lavish foreign visits by former rulers.

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During a meeting of the federal cabinet on Thursday, which was presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan himself, it was decided that five major regularity bodies will be brought under the cabinet and a proposal for removing the column of the profession from national passport was also approved.

PM Imran informed the cabinet members on his visit to the US and called it a successful one in which he had put forth the country’s case in a very befitting way. He also said that the government had no rule to block opposition’s public meetings when talking about the opposition’s ‘black day’ protest across Pakistan on the occasion of the first anniversary of the general elections.

The 10-point agenda:

Soon after her arrival at Karachi airport, she started briefing reporters about the 10-point agenda that the cabinet had taken. She stated that the prime minister had set up a committee comprising of officials from the ministries that concerned ways for making overseas Pakistanis legislators so that they could contribute to the economy of the country.

‘’Cabinet decides to bring five major regulatory bodies under its purview’’ – PM briefs meeting on his US visit

Dr. Awan also said that two of those 10 points were about overseas Pakistanis, their right to the voting and the mechanisms to permit them to become parliament members. She went on to say that the PM had an aim to make most of the talent and resources of overseas Pakistanis and dual nationals.

Therefore, he had set up a committee that represented ministries of foreign affairs, interior, parliamentary affairs, and overseas Pakistanis to suggest procedures through which they can remove hurdles in the way of dual nationals becoming legislators.

Right to vote for overseas Pakistanis:

Further on, she said that the PM had also issued directives to the related ministries as well as the Election Commission of Pakistan to come up with a complete program that gives overseas Pakistanis their right to vote. If implemented, an amendment to the constitution will be needed due to its Article 63 (c) which reads:

“A person shall be disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament), if he ceases to be a citizen of Pakistan, or acquires the citizenship of a foreign state.”

Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan also revealed that the ECP had initiated the process of registration of overseas Pakistanis as voters, but it could not be completed due to some reasons.

“Now the PM has directed the ECP and other relevant departments to restart the process of registration of overseas Pakistanis on a war footing,” she said.

Discussion over the issue of registration of overseas Pakistanis as voters and permitting dual nationals to contest in the elections has been going on for years. However, some legislators were even excluded from being dual nationals.

Last year in October, the Supreme Court disqualified PMLN senators, Haroon Akhtar, and Sadia Abbasi, the sisters of ex-PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi due to their dual nationalities at the time of filing of their nomination papers.

Former chief justice Saqib Nisar had also asked the lawyers of Punjab Governer Chaudhary Sarwar and PMLN’s Nuzhat Sadiq to provide their clients with verified affidavits which said that they had given up their second nationality prior to filing their nomination papers.

Likewise, on the persistence of PTI, the problem of allowing Pakistanis from overseas was discussed in detail by the special parliamentary committee on electoral reforms during the tenure of the previous government. PPP and PMLN have always backed the idea of giving the right of vote to overseas Pakistanis, but members in the committee did not fight back when ECP resisted the step.

Committee members were notified that even India had ceased to allow its nationals living abroad to poll their votes for a few reasons.

Following orders of the parliamentary committee, ECP conducted a mock exercise in four countries. However, the committee was informed by ECP officials that the mock exercise was ineffective due to some technical and legal reasons.

They stated that the mock exercise had been held in seven embassies, high commissions and consulates in which employees of foreign missions were asked to vote for fictitious candidates through postal ballots and telephone voting. However, not even one vote was polled through telephone calls, while it took postal ballots 6 to 14 days to reach ECP.

What problems did ECP face?

During the exercise, ECP encountered problems in handling an insignificant 67 postal ballots that were polled, whereas, in Saudi Arabia alone, 1.8 million overseas Pakistanis were residing.
Another problem was that ECP had sent ballot papers to overseas Pakistanis through emails, and there were a significant amount of Pakistanis working overseas as laborers and didn’t have access to emails.

Later on, Nadra and ECP informed the parliamentary committee that voters’ biometric verification, use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and voting by overseas Pakistanis couldn’t be done in 2018 elections due to the security of data if made available for online or offline verification of voters.

ECP was later asked by SC to start the process of registering overseas Pakistanis as a pilot project so that they could vote in the by-elections which were to be held in 37 constituencies of national and provincial assemblies in October last year. However, a small number of 7,419 overseas Pakistanis got themselves registered and out of which 6,000 voted.

A decision was then made to bring the following regulatory bodies under the cabinet until further notice,
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, Frequency Allocation Board, Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority, National Electric Power Regulatory Authority and Public Procurement Regulatory Authority

PM focused on the importance of reducing the role of regulations and regulatory authorities with the help of provincial governments and other related departments so that, economic activities in the country could be boosted and hurdles that were in the way due to regulations were removed.

Government to recover expenses incurred on foreign travel by past governments:

Former rulers, belonging to PMLN and PPP, gave a briefing on foreign visits and a decision was made that the cost spent on their camp offices, medical treatments, and private visits should be recovered from them. Also, it was decided that the government would examine replies to the audit paras that were made during the tenure of the two previous governments of PMLN and PPP.

“During the last 10 years former rulers have paid 333 foreign visits with 9,003 people at a cost Rs4.47 billion,” – the press release said.

The meeting was notified that PIA and Pakistan Post had become profit earning organizations. PIA earned Rs. 46 million during the previous two months while Pakistan Post earned Rs. 18.05bn this year, more than last year where they earned Rs. 108bn. The cabinet extended the time for implementing the 8th Wage Board Award for media persons for 120 days.

“While announcing the award, the government had allowed 180 days to the committee concerned for making a comprehensive report to implement it, but unfortunately the nomination of its members representing media owners was delayed. Now the prime minister has given another 120 days to complete the task within the stipulated timeframe so that the media workers are given their due rights”


Also See: Saudi Government Will Give Sim, Free Internet As A ‘Gift’ To Hajj Pilgrims


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