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Name of BISP not being changed, new schemes to run alongside it: Fawad Chaudhry

Updated April 02, 2019

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Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry addresses a press conference on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry addresses a press conference on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV

Days after the federal government's reported intention to amend the name of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) drew ire of the PPP, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Tuesday announced that the name of the cash transfer poverty programme would not be changed.

Addressing a news conference in Islamabad, the minister revealed that the recent controversy regarding reports of a planned change in the name of BISP was discussed by the federal cabinet in its meeting today, and clarified that "the name of the programme is not being amended."

The minister announced that the cabinet, which met with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair, had decided to raise a new division for poverty alleviation, which he claimed was a first in Pakistan's history. It will be called the Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Division.

Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs a cabinet meeting on Tuesday. — Photo courtesy Radio Pakistan
Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs a cabinet meeting on Tuesday. — Photo courtesy Radio Pakistan

Dismissing rumours of BISP being done away with, he said the government has introduced a poverty alleviation programme under which various social welfare schemes such as the Sehat Insaf Card, business loans and low-cost housing programme will be run.

"BISP will continue in its place but these programmes will be launched in addition to it under the umbrella of the 'Ehsas' programme," the minister revealed.

It was earlier reported that during his visit to Sindh's Ghotki district on Saturday, Prime Minister Imran Khan had reportedly agreed with Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf allies that the name of BISP should be changed after they alleged that the PPP was misusing the poverty alleviation project.

The PPP had vowed to resist the reported plan tooth and nail, with its chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari alleging that the government was "conspiring" to wrap up BISP by initially changing its name and then reducing its funds.

IPL telecast banned in Pakistan

The federal cabinet also decided to ban the telecast of Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket matches in Pakistan in the wake of "propaganda" carried out by India against Pakistan in recent weeks, Chaudhry said.

He said the government believes that political conflicts should not be allowed to impact sports and culture.

"However, we saw the attitude that [India] maintained against Pakistani citizens, actors, artists and cricketers," the minister said, adding that the wearing of military caps by Indian cricket players during a match against Australia was "the limit" for Pakistan.

Additionally, Chaudhry recalled that the official Indian broadcaster was made to pull out of the fourth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in the middle of the tournament following the Pulwama attack in order to harm the league.

He said the Ministry of Information had proposed the cabinet ban on IPL because after "India made an organised effort to harm cricket in Pakistan, it doesn't make sense for us to allow an Indian domestic tournament to be promoted here".

After the cabinet's endorsement of the ban, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) will ensure that IPL matches are not shown on any TV channels, Chaudhry said.

PM 'displeased' with Qureshi-Tareen spat

Responding to a question regarding PTI vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi's objection to stalwart Jahangir Khan Tareen's presence at official meetings, Chaudhry said Prime Minister Khan had "expressed displeasure" over the spat between the two leaders.

The premier advised the leaders against taking party matters out into the public, the minister revealed, stressing that everyone in PTI had the right to voice their opinion.

Among other decisions taken by the cabinet, a budget of Rs57.3 billion has been approved to be transferred to the former Fata region for Khasadar and other security forces, the information minister said. "It is very important the merger of Fata [with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa] is completed," he added.

Separately, the cabinet confirmed the appointment of Air Marshal Arshad Malik as the CEO of the Pakistan International Airlines.

New boards have been constituted of: the Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation, to be chaired by Shamsuddin Ahmed Sheikh; Oil and Gas Development Company Ltd, to be chaired by Qamar Javed Sharif; Sui Southern Gas Company Limited, to be chaired by Dr Shamshad Akhtar and Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited, to be chaired by Syed Dilawar Abbas.

Prime Minister Khan during the meeting directed officials to prepare a comprehensive policy roadmap for the development of wheat, cotton and rice crops in Pakistan.