• Minister says those who have been named in Pandora Papers won’t be removed till wrongdoing established
• Claims 10m jobs created in three years
ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Tuesday said the federal cabinet members, whose names had appeared in Pandora Papers, would not be removed from their positions unless they were declared guilty of any wrongdoing.
“Action will be taken once they are proven guilty,” the minister said in a post-cabinet press conference in reply to a question whether any action against public office holders named in Pandora Papers would be taken or not.
The minister said Prime Minister Imran Khan had formed a cell to ascertain involvement of Pandora Papers accused in any wrongdoing.
Mr Chaudhry criticised the owners of media houses for what he termed a “selective campaign” over Pandora Papers leaks, which have created a stir by revealing offshores companies owned by businessmen, politicians, media moguls and others across the world, including more than 700 Pakistanis.
Mr Chaudhry said, “I see the photos of [Finance Minister] Shaukat Tarin and [Industries Minister] Khusro Bakhtiar, [both of whom have been named in the leaks], being aired on TV channels, but not of media house owners, who have also been found to be owning offshore companies.”
The cell will categorise the named individuals into four groups: those who have declared their offshore companies in Pakistan; those who have not declared their companies here and committed tax evasion; those who used their companies for money laundering and individuals who have not shown their offshore companies as part of the assets owned by them while declaring their wealth.
Rs7 relief to power consumers
The minister said as the country had electricity in abundance but was enduring gas shortage, the government would provide incentives to consumers for using electricity in winters for heating purpose.
The minister said the cabinet constituted a committee for giving Rs7 per unit relief to those power consumers who would switch off gas heaters and geezers during winter.
He said the cabinet approved conduct of new census on the basis of de jure method.
He recalled that some objections were raised over the previous census.
Later, the matter was discussed by the cabinet for multiple times and both the procedures — de jure and de facto — opted worldwide for conducting this exercise were discussed at length.
Explaining both the procedures, he said under the de facto process, population count was done at the same time by imposing countrywide curfew, while de jure one tallied people on the basis of the time which they spent at a place.
A questionnaire is sent to the people asking them whether they are residing at the place for last six months or would he or she extend his or her stay for another six months in the future.
Since most of the countries opted de jure procedure, he said the cabinet had also decided to conduct the census on the basis of this process.
This was the first time in the history of Pakistan that the modern technology would be employed for the purpose, he added.
Mr Chaudhry said Eid-i-Miladun Nabi (PBUH) would be observed with religious zeal and fervour. From Rabiul Awwal 3 to 13, Ashra-i-Rehmatul Lil Alameen (PBUH) would be observed. During the Ashra, 10 Mahafil-i-Sama would be held where religious scholars would share their views on different topics.
According to him, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan told the meeting that serious efforts were made to hold discussion with the opposition on electoral reforms, but there was no effective response so far.
“We have decided to move towards a joint session of parliament,” he added.
Special Assistant to the PM on Health Dr Faisal Sultan briefed the cabinet on the issue of Medical and Dental College Admission Test (MDCAT).
The minister said the government was striving to establish a criterion for admission to medical colleges. He said lawyers after completion of their studies had to take bar councils’ tests, similarly doctors after completion of MBBS had to pass a test to determine their qualification and expertise.
The minister claimed that the government had created over 10 million jobs during the past three years and 1.6m Pakistani had gone aboard. “We will give you data of all ministries which shows that over 10m jobs have been created,” he told a questioner.
The information minister said a ministerial committee, comprising himself, Minister for Communications Murad Saeed and Minister for Energy Hamad Azhar, was constituted to examine the power and road infrastructure projects contracts signed by the previous governments at inflated rates and to identify the beneficiaries.
The committee would present its report to the cabinet which would decide action against the culprits.
Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2021