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'Absolutely not' and 'fake threats' led to postponement of NZ, England tours: Fawad

Islamabad: Federal Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain Tuesday said hybrid war and fake news were interlinked, saying "absolutely not" and "fake threats" resulted into the postponement of recent New Zealand tour.

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'Absolutely not' and 'fake threats' led to postponement of NZ, England tours: Fawad
GNN Media: Representational Photo

"Details of the tour cancellation are being collected and would be shared in a separate press conference," he said while addressing a post cabinet brieifing.

Fawad said Pakistan is paying the price for its stance of "absolutely not" with regards to the recent tour cancellations by the New Zealand and England cricket boards.

The minister took exception to the non serious attitude of opposition parties giving preference to personal interests over issues of national importance.

He termed electoral reforms ‘need of the hour’ and regretted that the opposition was only interested to save the money they had looted from national exchequer while in power.

He said the government had approached the opposition several times for holding talks for evolving consensus over the issue of electoral reforms, but it was unfortunate that they could not see beyond personal interests.

They only wanted that they should not be asked to return national wealth looted and plundered by them and their leadership while being into the power, he said while asserting that most of them were not even interested in becoming the prime minister of the country.

The minister said the government had a clear vision to grant voting right to the overseas Pakistanis who were backbone of the national economy.

“It is not possible that we do not allow overseas Pakistanis to cast vote in the election,” he added.

Giving details of the decisions taken in the Federal Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, he said the proposal for 44 per cent increase in the current house rent ceiling of the government employees had been green lighted.

It was aimed at providing major relief to public servants in the wake of high rates of houses fares in the major cities especially in Islamabad, he added.

The increase would be applicable to the federal government employees from grade 1 to 22, he said, adding the initiative was taken after reviewing the increase in the houses’ fares in major cities. Such practice was repeated after every three years, he noted.

The minister said the forum accorded approval to include Uzbekistan in the business visa list. The move was aimed at strengthening ties with the Central Asian state as well as providing relief to the business community of the two countries, he added.

The Cabinet okayed the import of films from the regional countries so that the film industry could be uplifted by reviving cinema culture through screening of such movies.

Fawad said Jammu and Kashmir State Property Budget worth Rs 190.383 million for the Fiscal Year 2021-22 had also been approved by the Cabinet.

The forum also accorded approval to hire services of M/s KPMG Taseer Hadi and Co. for [audit] of the National Database and Registration Authority financial accounts for fiscal year 202-21.

He said Asif Rauf had been appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of Drug Regulatory Authority for the next three months.

The minister said the Cabinet had expressed concern over giving membership of Parliamentary committees to those Senators and Members of National Assembly who had some sort of conflict of interest with the bodies.

He said the National Assembly Speaker and Senate Chairman would be requested to ask those members to tender resignation, otherwise legislation would be done to remove them from those committees.

Fawad expressed the hope that those members having a conflict of interest in some standing committees would resign themselves.

He said the Federal Cabinet was told that the country had gained a landmark victory against the crippling disease of polio. Ministry of National Health Services was appreciated and congratulated by the cabinet members on achieving such milestone.

The minister said only one case of polio was reported in the last seven months which was the lowest level of reported cases in the country after such a long time.

Any country, which wanted to get polio-free country status, it had to be remained polio-free for three years, consecutively, he added.

It was a good omen that such a level against the disease was achieved after a hiatus, he remarked while expressing the hope that the authorities would continue to move against the disease with the same spirit and the country would eventually emerge as a polio-free in future.

He said the Federal Cabinet, on the request of World Food Programme, also granted one-time permission to make concession in the port policy orders for release of shipments from Saudi Arabia.

About inclusion of Uzbekistan in the business visa list, he said the initiative would ensure availability of five-year multi-visa facility at the relevant Pakistan Consulate within 24 hour-time.

The minister said with addition of Uzbekistan in the list, the bilateral ties would be strengthened further.

Fawad said Pakistan and Uzbekistan especially its political leadership including Prime Minister Imran Khan and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev enjoyed good ties especially in the context of Afghanistan and trans Mazar-i- Sharif train which would connect Karachi and Gawadr with Tashkent via the landlocked country.

He called the Mazar-i-Sharif train as a ‘landmark’ vision of the present government, saying talks on the matter were going forward in a remarkable manner.

The minister said the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) presented a policy directive to the meeting on a judgment referred by the Islamabad High Court to the Federal Cabinet regarding blockage of social media companies and inappropriate content on social media sites.

The policy directive was meant to apprise the court that the government was fully empowered to take action for removal unlawful of contents from the social media.

About contemporary social media rules and regulations, he said the government was working on two-pronged strategy to address social media related issues through new policy initiatives.

The strategy was not only aimed at tightening noose around those companies that were delaying action against producers of pornographic content, but also taking legal action against the individuals, involved in making objectionable content in Pakistan, he added.

He said issues related to social media had become a major problem in the country that was why a new policy debate on the matter was being initiated that would be led by Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari. The debate would help evolve new laws for the purpose, he added.

As regards to the revival of film industry, the minister said since the Covid-19 cases witnessed a sharp decline and the Federal Cabinet decided to allow screening of Iranian, Turkish and other countries’ movies, the negotiations with the National Command and Operation Center for opening of cinemas were underway.

He said the government had already given different incentives to the film industry and announced that concession in electricity tariff would be offered to the cinema houses for boosting such business activity.

Fawad said in a first, a new alternative dispute resolution mechanism was put in place in the Federal Capital under which ADR centers would be set up in Islamabad.

In the first phase, he said family issues would be referred to the Alternative Dispute Resolutions (ADRs) so that such matters could be resolved through mediation and burden on the judicial system would reduce.

What he regarded as a system akin to old ‘Panchayat’ system, he said the ADR in its updated form was adopted by the developed countries like the United States and the United Kingdom where it produced 75 per cent and 80 per cent results, respectively.

The minister said for the first time, modern technology would be opted to so that the upcoming census could be completed within 540 days. 

Prime Minister Imran Khan had formed a committee as some details of the census were yet to be determined, he added.

He said the next general elections would be held under the new census and after delimitation of the constituencies.

Fawad said this news might hurt some people who were desperate to see fresh elections in the next few months.

He said reformation of the electoral system was imperative before the next elections and opposition was being approached for the purpose.

To a query, Fawad said that a calculator had been added to the ballot box which would automatically calculate the number of votes polled for all candidates. The world had moved far ahead in the use of technology in elections but Pakistan was just adding a calculator to the ballot box at this stage, he added.

He said Pakistan Television Corporation had suffered financial loss of up to Rs 250 million due to the cancellation of New Zealand and England cricket teams tours.

The legal teams were working about how to seek compensation for the huge losses, he added.
The minister said there must be a price for saying ‘absolutely not’ to [the world powers].

The role of the Election Commission of Pakistan was discussed in the Cabinet at length, he said while responding to another query.

He said the opposition parties’ members only wanted halt in the ongoing accountability process.
About inflation, he said the issue was discussed in detail during the meeting which was told that there were the lowest prices for petroleum products in the country as compared to the world.

Gas prices in Pakistan were lower than of Qatar which was one of the major exporters of the commodity, he added. The minister said the real achievement was that the income of over 70 per cent of the population had also increased significantly.

He said 60 per cent of the population in Pakistan was associated with the agriculture sector and which had an additional income of Rs 1,100 billion in the recent past.

The minister said the income of millions of people associated with construction industry had also increased.

He said the government was reviewing the policy of export of vegetables to stabilize their prices in the local market.

Faisal Ali Ghumman

Faisal Ali Ghumman is a senior editor at GNN, known for writing top quality content which garner very high readerships and has been covering every field of journalism, including politics, media, sports and scholarly articles. Faisal Ali Ghumman is nothing less than a Veteran Editor and has been writing for GNN for the past 4 months.

Pakistan

Pakistan’s COVID-19 positivity ratio rises again 

According to National Command and Operations Center (NCOC), around 1,021 cases of coronavirus were reported while 21 people succumbed to the disease in the last 24 hours, taking the total death toll to 28,173.

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Pakistan’s COVID-19 positivity ratio rises again 

Islamabad: Pakistan's coronavirus positivity ratio surged to 2.36% with 1,021 new cases. 

According to National Command and Operations Center (NCOC), around 1,021 cases of coronavirus were reported while 21 people succumbed to the disease in the last 24 hours, taking the total death toll to 28,173.

Pakistan is presently experiencing the fourth wave of coronavirus which is said to be deadlier and more contagious than the previous three COVID waves.

The total number of cases has reached 1,260,669.

As many as 1,191,425 patients have recovered from the disease with 2,257 critical cases.

Punjab

The number of patients swelled to 436,720 in the province with 12,800 causalities.

Sindh

The number of infections has surged to 463,703 in the province, while the death toll has reached 7,505.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

The confirmed cases have surged to 176,194 in the province with 5,657 casualties.

Balochistan

There are 33,092 confirmed cases while 350 patients have died from the infection so far.

AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan

There are 34,360 coronavirus cases in the AJK while the death toll has reached 740. On the other hand, there are 10,359 cases in GB with 186 coronavirus deaths.

Islamabad

There are 106,241 cases in the capital city while 935 people have lost their lives.   

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Pakistan

‘Covid fourth wave’: Pakistan reports 1016 new cases, 28 deaths

According to National Command and Operations Center (NCOC), around 1,016 cases of coronavirus were reported while 28 people succumbed to the disease in the last 24 hours, taking the total death toll to 28,201.

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‘Covid fourth wave’: Pakistan reports 1016 new cases, 28 deaths

Islamabad: Pakistan is presently experiencing the fourth wave of coronavirus which is said to be deadlier and more contagious than the previous three COVID waves.

According to National Command and Operations Center (NCOC), around 1,016 cases of coronavirus were reported while 28 people succumbed to the disease in the last 24 hours, taking the total death toll to 28,201.

The total number of cases has reached 1,261,685.

As many as 1,193,175 patients have recovered from the disease with 2,195 critical cases.

Punjab

The number of patients swelled to 437,032 in the province with 12,808 causalities.

Sindh

The number of infections has surged to 464,142 in the province, while the death toll has reached 7,514.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

The confirmed cases have surged to 176,366 in the province with 5,666 casualties.

Balochistan

There are 33,100 confirmed cases while 352 patients have died from the infection so far.

AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan

There are 34,372 coronavirus cases in the AJK while the death toll has reached 740. On the other hand, there are 10,361 cases in GB with 186 coronavirus deaths.

Islamabad

There are 106,312 cases in the capital city while 935 people have lost their lives. 

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Pakistan

34 more succumb to COVID-19 in Pakistan; 1,656 new cases emerge 

Pakistan is presently experiencing the fourth wave of coronavirus which is said to be deadlier and more contagious than the previous three COVID waves. Today, the daily positivity rate in-country is at 3.26%.

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34 more succumb to COVID-19 in Pakistan; 1,656 new cases emerge 

Islamabad: Pakistan is presently experiencing the fourth wave of coronavirus which is said to be deadlier and more contagious than the previous three COVID waves. Today, the daily positivity rate in-country is at 3.26%.

According to National Command and Operations Center (NCOC), around 1,656 cases of coronavirus were reported while 35 people succumbed to the disease in the last 24 hours, taking the total death toll to 27,785.

The total number of cases has reached 1,249,858.

As many as 1,175,489 patients have recovered from the disease with 3,444 critical cases.

Punjab   

The number of patients swelled to 432,809 in the province with 12,672 causalities.

Sindh

The number of infections has surged to 459,392 in the province, while the death toll has reached 7,425.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

The confirmed cases have surged to 174,490 in the province with 5,571 casualties.

Balochistan

There are 32,956 confirmed cases while 349 patients have died from the infection so far.

AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan

There are 34,216 coronavirus cases in the AJK while the death toll has reached 738. On the other hand, there are 10,331 cases in GB with 184 coronavirus deaths.

Islamabad

There are 105,664 cases in the capital city while 927 people have lost their lives.

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