ISLAMABAD, July 25: The federal cabinet decided on Thursday to extend the quota system in central civil services for 20 years.
An official handout said the government had decided to continue with the existing arrangements under which every province held a certain quota in civil services.
It said the cabinet had approved a constitutional amendment to the first provision of Article 27(1) which suggested that “in the interest of national integrity and harmony, adequate representation in the service of Pakistan for persons belonging to any class or area is only possible when the period is further extended”.
The provision provides for merit and regional quota for fulfilment of direct recruitment to posts in the federal government. The existing provision will be extended to another 20 years from next month onwards.
Some ministers opposed the extension but the meeting decided that since the amendment had to be made by parliament the issue should be discussed on the floor of the house which would decide whether the quota system should continue.
A spokesperson of the MQM said his party had opposed the extension because it was against the principle of open merit. The party will definitely vote against this amendment.
The original 1973 constitution had fixed a period of 10 years for the job quota for the provinces, but the governments in the 1980s and 1990s enhanced it to 40 years which will expire on Aug 13.
If the government desires to retain the quota system it will have to amend Article 27(1) of the constitution titled “Safeguard against discrimination in services” as early as possible.
POLITICAL CRISIS: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who presided over the cabinet meeting, categorically stated that keeping up with the best democratic traditions, the PML-N would neither try to dislodge the present government in Azad Kashmir nor would it be part of any no-confidence move.
He directed Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Barjis Tahir to firmly convey the decision to the PML-N leadership in Azad Kashmir. They should abide by party discipline and abstain from indulging in any activity which could create a political turmoil in Azad Kashmir.
Some legislators belonging to the PPP had moved an application for a vote of no-confidence against their prime minister.
“The PML-N has taken a similar position during the formation of the governments in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan,” Mr Sharif was quoted as saying in the handout.
AFGHAN REFUGEES: The cabinet took up the issue of Afghan refugees’ repatriation beyond June 30 this year and decided to carry on the process until 2015. The prime minister constituted a three-member committee comprising Minister for States and Frontier Regions Qadir Baloch, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar and Information Minister Parvez Rashid to prepare a report on timely repatriation of the refugees.
CHINA VISIT: The prime minister briefed the cabinet on his visit to China. He said both the countries had agreed to develop the Gwadar-Kashgar economic corridor which would prove to be “a dream come true” in terms of progress and prosperity for the people of Pakistan and the region.
He said Chinese companies were expected to relocate their businesses to economic zones along the corridor in Pakistan. It will also open an avenue for Pakistan’s trade and commerce with other countries of the region.
The prime minister said the two countries had set up task forces to monitor and expedite the process of executing the economic corridor project. He said that as a goodwill gesture shown by the Chinese side, insurance charges of six per cent on the Chinese investment in Pakistan which ran into billions of rupees had been waived.
He said the economic cooperation between the two countries would result in Pakistan’s economic resurgence.
The cabinet confirmed the decisions taken by the Economic Coordination Committee in its meetings on June 27 and July 2, 11, 12 and 18.
AGE LIMIT: The cabinet approved an amendment to the Federal Employees Benevolent Fund and Group Insurance Act, 1969 (Act-II of 1969). The amendment will remove the age limit of 70 years for the provision of benevolent grant to family members of an employee who dies up to the age of 70. Grants under other schemes such as marriage grant, burial charges and educational stipends are admissible without restriction of any age limit.
AGREEMENTS: The cabinet gave ex-post facto approval to negotiations and signing of a memorandum of understanding on cooperation for developing “China-Pakistan economic corridor” and long-term and action plans between the National Development and Reform Commission of China and the Planning Commission of Pakistan.
It also gave ex-post facto approval to the signing of an MoU with Poland on cooperation in energy and mineral resources. The MoU will encourage and promote investments in energy and mineral projects in the two countries, foster development of technological research, cooperation among academic and science institutes and promote best standards and practices in the energy sector.
The cabinet gave ex-post facto approval to the negotiations and signing of an MoU between the department of plant protection of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry of Australia for export of mangoes to Australia.