ISLAMABAD: Expressing dissatisfaction over provision of A-class facilities in jail to former premier Nawaz Sharif and ex-president Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday questioned the issuance of production orders for the parliamentarians facing money laundering and corruption charges and called for revisiting relevant laws.
According to Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, the prime minister made these remarks while presiding over a meeting of the federal cabinet at Prime Minister Office.
In a significant move, the cabinet approved formation of a high-powered authority that passed on orders to tax collectors to start attaching all undeclared properties of the leadership of both opposition parties including Shahbaz Sharif as well as their families across the country for their alleged involvement in ‘corruption and money laundering’. “The PPP and PML-N leaders cannot get declared their assets in the current assets declarations scheme, therefore, the process of attachment will start from them,” Dr Awan explained.
“The prime minister has directed the interior ministry to make jails a terrible place for the convicts involved in looting people and pushing the country to the verge of collapse,” she said.
Firdous says ‘undeclared properties’ of the leadership of major opposition parties and their families are being attached; cabinet also decides that Nawaz not to get meals from home
PM Khan called for revisiting the laws to ensure those convicted in corruption and money laundering cases were not glorified, she said. The cabinet also decided that the ex-premier must not be allowed to receive meals from home. She said: “Despite suffering from heart ailment, Nawaz Sharif usually gets from his home high-protein meals such as Siri paey which is not good for his health. Therefore, we have decided to prevent him from taking such food,” she said, adding that he was being treated by a group of 16 doctors.
The remarks of the prime minister about production orders for detained legislators drew a strong reaction from opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). The parties termed the move an attempt to ‘weaken’ parliament.
PML-N leader Mohsin Ranjha said the real ‘money launderer’, ‘criminals’ and ‘looters’ were sitting under the umbrella of PM Khan. “Firdous Baji, prime minister has nothing to do with production orders as it is solely the matter of parliament,” he said. “Selected PM has first attacked the parliament and now he wanted to grab it. The prime minister has humiliated the office of speaker of National Assembly by dictating to him,” he added.
If a production order for Rana Sanaullah was not issued, Dr Awan would have to respond to the corruption allegations against for ‘misuse’ of government buses and medicines, Mr Ranjha said.
PPP leader Dr Nafisa Shah said the move to disallow detained legislators from attending parliament was an ‘attack’ to ‘weaken the parliament’. Former president Asif Ali Zardari had empowered the parliament, she said, adding that blocking his production orders was an insult to the parliament. She said PM Khan was bent upon weakening the parliament as National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar failed to safeguard the prestige of the parliament.
While talking about other decisions taken at the cabinet meeting, the special assistant to the prime minister said the government approved Haj Policy-2019 under which 200,000 Pakistani pilgrims would be provided e-visa facility by the Saudi Arabian government to perform Haj this year.
Dr Awan said the cabinet approved Senior Citizens Bill 2019 and formation of National Commission on Rights of Child (NCRC). A shelter home for senior citizens and an orphanage would be established in Islamabad, she announced, claiming that the facilities would be extended to other cities later. She said the NCRC would prepare a database of abducted and missing children.
BoI gets new head
The cabinet approved appointment of Zubair Gilani as new chairman of Board of Investment (BoI) and decided that Pakistan Steel Mills would be revived on a public-private partnership basis as many international firms have shown interest in it, she said.
Besides, the cabinet finalised a procedure for work visas with North Korea. It also approved abolition of prize bond with the denomination of Rs40,000 to check black money.
Talking about Haj policy 2019 in presence of Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Dr Noor-ul-Haq Qadri, Dr Awan said the prime minister directed the relevant authorities to keep this year Haj free from any scandal and provide all possible facilities to the intending pilgrims.
According to her, PM Khan will inaugurate Haj flight operations as for the first time Pakistani pilgrims will leave Islamabad after completing immigration formalities at the airport.
The religious minister said Saudi Arabia was extending e-visa facility to Pakistani pilgrims for the first time. He said the government would make excellent arrangements for transportation, food and accommodation of 200,000 Pakistani pilgrims. “Latest model air-conditioned buses have been hired for the transportation of Pakistani Hujjaj and food of Pakistani taste will be provided to Pakistani pilgrims,” he added.
Dr Qadri announced that between Rs25,000 and Rs58,000 would be returned to the pilgrims under government the Haj scheme, as the government saved amount by excellently bargaining on transport and accommodation facilities.
Published in Dawn, July 3rd , 2019