Cabinet assails ‘fake news’ about Nawaz Sharif’s order to Intelligence Bureau

Updated September 27, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi presiding over a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.—APP
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi presiding over a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.—APP

ISLAMABAD: Members of the federal cabinet on Tuesday took serious notice of the airing of a “false report” on a private television channel claiming that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had directed the Intelligence Bureau (IB) to keep vigilance over some 37 legislators, mostly belonging to the ruling PML-N, allegedly for having links with banned terrorist and sectarian outfits, sources told Dawn.

According to the sources, the issue was raised by Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada at the cabinet meeting that was presided over by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

Later, a number of ministers, whose names were included in the alleged report, spoke on the matter, calling for strict action against those who had “fabricated” the news.

The ministers were of the view that the report was aimed at damaging their reputation and that strict action should be taken against the “plotters” because the IB had already denied receiving any such directives from the Prime Minister’s Office or possessing any such list.

The report aired by ARY News in its programme “Power Play” on Monday had claimed that the-then prime minister had directed the IB on July 10 — three weeks before his disqualification — to probe the 37 lawmakers for allegedly having links with the banned outfits.

Interestingly, the list contained the names of a number of key ministers — including Riaz Pirzada, Zahid Hamid, Baleeghur Rehman, Sikandar Bosan and Hafiz Abdul Kareem — as well as Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Murtaza Javed Abbasi.

The prime minister later directed Law Minister Hamid to probe the issue and ensure action against the channel through the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) for the “mala fide reporting”.

According to a handout issued by the Prime Minister Office, at its meeting the cabinet approved a proposal allowing persons with special needs (physically impaired, hearing/speech impaired and visually impaired) to compete in the competitive examinations in all occupational groups and services.

The secretary of power division gave a detailed presentation to the cabinet on the current and future demand and supply situation of the power sector.

The cabinet was informed that the present government would add more than 11,500MW electricity to the system by June next year and that more than 6,100MW had already been added to the system.

The cabinet was further informed that by November this year, loadshedding would be reduced to “negligible levels”. Details about improvements in the transmission and distribution system were also presented to the cabinet.

The cabinet approved five-year extension in the lease contract of Saindak Copper Gold project between Saindak Metals Limited and Metallurgical Corporation of China Ltd. The existing lease agreement would expire on Oct 31.

The cabinet also approved the issuance of a policy directive to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to enable market testing of 5G technology within the regulatory environment and ensure that the new technology was ready for the market.

The cabinet approved a proposal by the finance division that would enable the auditor general of Pakistan to sign an MoU with his Indonesian counterpart on cooperation in public sector auditing.

To expedite the process of development, the cabinet approved a proposal to amend guidelines regarding implementation of projects under the Prime Minister’s Global Sustainable Development Goals Achievement Programme. According to the decision, the competent authority/forum would be authorised to approve schemes costing over Rs30 million.

The cabinet also ratified decisions of the Economic Coordination Committee made on Aug 29.

Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2017