• NAB, FBI to sign MoU to share details about assets of nationals • Minister says PDM promoting Indian agenda
ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Tuesday gave a go-ahead to the National Assembly speaker to accept resignations of opposition legislators, sending a clear message to them that the government will not succumb to “pressure tactics”.
The cabinet also took a number of other important decisions, among them being granting approval to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the US for sharing information on money and other assets of Pakistanis stashed in the US.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan, from the platform of the federal cabinet, asked National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar to accept resignations, as and when they come,” a participant of the meeting told Dawn.
Speaking hours before the press conference of Pakistan Peoples Party chief Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari announcing the decisions of his party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC), Information Minister Shibli Faraz said following the PPP CEC meeting a breach had appeared in the opposition as the party’s legislators would not be tendering resignations from the national and provincial assemblies.
The source quoted the prime minister as saying at the cabinet meeting: “Accept their resignations at once; the government will never succumb to any pressure of the opposition seeking NRO (a concessional National Reconciliation Ordinance).”
Talking about the joint opposition’s Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), the prime minister said it was “a failed attempt of the 11 opposition parties to topple the government”.
Meanwhile, two opposition MNAs, Murtaza Javed Abbasi and Mohammad Sajjad Awan, have reportedly submitted their resignations to the National Assembly Secretariat.
The PDM, after a series of rallies in different cities, has warned the government that its legislators would resign as a last resort to send the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s government packing.
However, Mr Khan said he was not afraid of resignations and the government would hold by-elections on the seats vacated in the national and provincial assemblies by the opposition legislators.
Many PML-N leaders have claimed that they have submitted their resignations to the party leadership and not to the NA speaker.
In a post-cabinet press conference, Information Minister Faraz said the PDM was promoting Indian agenda by maligning state institutions.
“The opposition alliance is seeking the prime minister’s resignation when it has become obvious after PPP’s Central Executive Committee meeting that its parliamentarians will not resign,” Mr Faraz said.
He said the PDM was maligning state institutions at the behest of India, adding that according to the Constitution, making the army and judiciary “controversial” would be considered a “violation” of the Constitution.
The minister claimed that the economy had been brought on the right track and was gradually improving.
“The government’s promises will be fulfilled during its remaining tenure,” he added.
The cabinet allowed the signing of a MoU between NAB and FBI under which both organisations would share information on properties and assets of their nationals in either country.
A source in the cabinet said there was division in the cabinet on the issue as some wanted the MoU inked between the Federal Investigation Agency and FBI whereas others were of the view that since NAB was already dealing with such cases, it should therefore sign the agreement.
An insider in NAB said the bureau had already signed an information sharing agreement with China under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project as well as the UK.
He said being a signatory to the UN Convention on Anti-Corruption, Pakistan could seek information about corruption money and assets of an accused from any country. Besides, information can also be sought through Interpol.
In another decision, the cabinet approved the appointments of Javed Ghani as the new chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue and that of Mohammad Saeed Khalid Jadoon as director general of Hydro Carbon Institute of Pakistan.
The cabinet consented to a grant of Rs219 million for the newly-established Covid-19 isolation hospital in the federal capital.
It also authorised the Capital Development Authority to remove all encroachments from Margalla Road.
Earlier, in the meeting, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan apprised the prime minister of the steps being taken to check passengers coming from the UK where a new strain of coronavirus has surfaced.
Published in Dawn, December 30th, 2020