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Govt concern over misuse of content on internet: Dr Firdous Ashiq

29 May, 2019

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ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan Tuesday said that cabinet expressed concern over the misuse of content on internet and increase in incidents of child molestation. The interior ministry has been given responsibility to take steps to stop the growing incidents of child abuse, she said. The ministries of law, human rights and interior have been asked to re-examine the laws regarding crimes against juvenile and the prime minister is of the view that capital punishment should be given to persons involved in child abuse cases.

She said the cabinet has decided to bring into use all available assets of the ministries, including 31 of their properties. The cabinet was told that National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has identified and recovered 17 properties from a grade 19 officer in audit department of Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA). The properties were made from misusing the funds allocated for ERRA to build houses for the earthquake affected people, she added.

Minister of information said that the latest incident in North Waziristan is unfortunate as the miscreants challenged writ of the state by attacking an army checkpost and a personnel of Frontier Corps was martyred.

“The cabinet condemned the incident and expressed solidarity with the injured and prayed for the departed soul,” she said at a press conference after the cabinet meeting, adding that the tribesmen have rendered great sacrifices and paid with their lives and now some miscreant elements are putting at stake entire peace and development of the tribal areas. “Prime Minister Imran Khan led efforts for peace in tribal areas and decided to spend Rs 100 billion for development of infrastructure,” she said. “A conspiracy was hatched and some elements played in the hands of international powers to endanger peace of the area,” she added.

The cabinet also took note of misuse of funds in the Kaachi Canal Project by different departments. A committee headed by Justice (r) Tasaduq Hussain Jillani identified the culprits in its findings but no action was taken. The cabinet referred the matter to Federal Investigation Authority (FIA) which will take action against the culprits within a month.

Dr Firdous said the government is focusing on health issues and the cabinet after discussing the health hazards posed by cigarette smoking has decided to generate more revenue from cigarette industry so that the amount could be spent on prevention measures in the health sector. She said the cabinet considered the mechanism for running the hospitals in provinces which were handed over to the Cabinet Division by the Supreme Court.

The law, health and finance ministries will devise a budget support mechanism to protect rights of staff working in those hospitals.

She said Saudi King Salman on the request of Prime Minister Imran Khan has increased Hajj quota for Pakistanis by 15,790. Earlier the Hajj quota for Pakistanis was 179,210, in which 60% was government quota and 40% quota was given to the private Hajj operators. Under the newly given quota, preference will be given to those who had applied for Hajj three times but remained unsuccessful while the remaining quota of 9400 persons will be given on the basis of hardship cases. Firdous said this time 20,000 Pakistani pilgrims will be given immigration clearance at Islamabad airport while later on this facility will be made available at other airports.

Dr Firdous said Sharif family never missed an opportunity to target the prime minister and this time too at an event in Lahore they kept their focus on Imran Khan and showed their animosity and envy. The Sharif family had a flop show in Lahore and their only agenda was to raise hue and cry about the actions taken by NAB against them, she said. “Sharif family wants that nobody should ask them from where their money came, how they made properties in foreign countries and why they looted assets of the country,” she added.

In an apparent reference to Khawaja Asif, she said a political midget was always talking against the prime minister but he cannot raise his political stature with such acts. She said the credibility of Prime Minister Imran Khan has convinced the friendly countries to come to assistance of Pakistan resulting in the economy getting stable. She said if the hands of leader of opposition and former finance minister are clear, they should return to Pakistan.

Responding to another question, she said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ran all his campaign on anti-Pakistan rhetoric and fanned extremism. Pakistan did not invite Modi to the swearing-in ceremony of its prime minister, so Modi will also not invite the prime minister on his oath taking, she added. Dr Firdous said the next budget to be presented on June 11 will focus on moving the economy towards stabilisation, reducing fiscal deficit through mobilisation of revenue and managing of current account deficit by reducing imports. Briefing about cabinet decisions here at a press conference, she said expenditure will be brought under control in the upcoming budget, setting path for public debt reduction. Vulnerable sections of society will be protected and top priority will be to reduce financial burden on common people, she added.

Dr Firdous said Advisor on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh presented before the cabinet outlines of the next budget. She said further steps will be taken to improve growth prospects and create jobs, adding that the provincial governments which through the National Finance Commission Award get a major share of resources will be taken on board to tackle the challenges faced on the economic front. She said ultimately the economic roadmap given by the government stabilised value of rupee against dollar and put an end to uncertainty and rumours affecting stability of the economy. Stock exchange has responded positively setting new records, she observed, adding that the economic measures will ultimately bring down inflation minimising economic difficulties of the people. “The focus will be on revival of sick industrial units. In the past, interests of industries were not protected under the free trade agreement with China which created a consumer economy that led to expansion in imports,” she added. To a question about new tax measures in the budget, she said the government will broaden the tax base as among 55 million bank account holders, only a few hundred thousand pay taxes.

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