• MQM submits dissenting note, raises MDCAT issue
• Cabinet proposes holding census every three years
• Interior minister given powers to amend ECL
• Shibli claims PDM stands exposed
ISLAMABAD: After a lapse of three years, the federal cabinet finally approved the 6th National Census-2017 on Tuesday with a dissenting note submitted by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), one of the government’s main allies.
A meeting of the cabinet, presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan, decided to send the census report to the Council of Common Interests (CCI) to get its final nod with consensus among the provinces.
“The cabinet approved Census-2017 and recommended some amendments so that the exercise could be carried out after every three years and not 10 years,” Information Minister Shibli Faraz told Dawn after the meeting.
“Circumstances change within days, so why wait for 10 years for the next census,” the minister said, adding that the CCI would make necessary amendments to the relevant law.
When contacted, MQM leader and federal Minister for Information Technology Syed Aminul Haq said the census was approved by the cabinet without any change, but his party submitted a dissenting note. “We rejected the census results and informed the cabinet that MQM would not accept delimitations under Census-2017,” he said, adding that though the MQM was one of the main allies of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government, Census-2017 was approved with a majority vote in the cabinet.
Mr Haq said the MQM had also raised the issue of the recently-held Medical and Dental Colleges Admission Test (MDCAT) in which most of the questions were related to the federal board, making it difficult for the students from Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh to solve them. Therefore, he said, 70 per cent students from Islamabad, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir got admission to medical colleges.
Names on ECL
The meeting approved 15 of the 16 agenda items with one relating to placing of names on the no-fly list, commonly known as Exit Control List (ECL). It was decided that the cabinet’s committee would have a final say in this regard.
“The meeting approved delegating powers to the interior minister to carry out amendments to the ECL, making it clear that the approval was only granted to get judicial orders implemented. However, a final approval would be sought from the cabinet after recommendations from the cabinet committee,” said an official press release issued by the Prime Minister Office.
The cabinet committee would comprise ministers for interior and law, whereas the adviser on interior and accountability and interior secretary would attend its meeting on special invitation.
The cabinet also approved further application of Pakistan Essential Services (Maintenance Act 1952) on all employees of the Utility Stores Corporation for a period of six months.
The Capital Development Authority (CDA) chairman apprised the cabinet of encroachments on Margalla Road.
“The prime minister observed that law was equal for everyone. The Ministry of Defence assured complete implementation of the cabinet’s directive in this regard,” the press release added.
The cabinet granted its approval to amending the CDA Ordinance 1960 which was aimed at promoting public-private partnership projects.
In a separate decision, the cabinet gave a go-ahead to the appointments of managing director of the STEDEC Technology Commercialisation Corporation of Pakistan and director general of the National Institute of Oceanography. It also approved reorganisation of the board of directors of Agriculture Development Bank and inclusion of the minister for industries and production in the investment board.
A go-ahead to import of JP-5 fuel for meeting operational requirements of Pakistan Navy was also given.
An annual performance report of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority for the year 2019-20 and a review report on power industry for 2020 were submitted to the cabinet.
The prime minister was informed that work on promotion of renewable energy was continuing and a trend of competition in the energy sector was being encouraged so that consumers could get cheaper electricity. “Collaboration between energy and research entities is being further strengthened so that innovations in the energy sector could be made,” he added.
The cabinet also approved decisions taken by the Economic Coordination Committee during its meeting on Dec 16.
The meeting approved the appointment of the executive member of the National Medical Authority under the Pakistan Medical Commission Act 2020. The appointment of members in the board of governors of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences and Federal Medical Commission and School of Dentistry under the Federal Medical Teaching Institutes Ordinance 2020 was also approved.
The cabinet consented to the appointment of energy secretary as chairman of the Private Power Infrastructure Board, National Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority and Alternative Energy Development Board, besides appointment of directors in the board of Special Technology Zones Authority.
Later, at a press conference, Information Minister Shibli Faraz claimed that differences had developed in the opposition Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), leaving it exposed. “Differences between the 11 opposition parties of the PDM are obvious and apparent,” he added.
He said Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had lost his credibility after his party member Maulana Sheerani admitted that he (Maulana Fazl) himself was “selected”.
The minister lashed out at the opposition for ignoring the second but more lethal wave of coronavirus and held rallies in various parts of the country, resulting in a surge in Covid-19 cases and putting additional burden on hospitals.
Published in Dawn, December 23rd, 2020