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Pakistan to close Indian airspace,block Indian land trade to Afghanistan via Pakistan: Fawad Chaudhary

28 August, 2019

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is considering a complete closure of airspace to India and blocking Indian land trade to Afghanistan via Pakistan, Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhary posted on his Twitter handle on Tuesday.

“PM is considering a complete closure of Air Space to India, a complete ban on use of Pakistan Land routes for Indian trade to Afghanistan was also suggested in cabinet meeting, legal formalities for these decisions are under consideration … #Modi has started we’ll finish!,” the minister tweeted following the cabinet meeting.

Pakistan had reopened its airspace in mid-July after a nearly four-month closure imposed in February after the Pulwama incident in Indian-held Kashmir led to clashes between the nuclear-armed neighbours. Each country carried out airstrikes on the other’s territory and warplanes fought a dogfight above the disputed Kashmir region in which two Indian fighter jets were shot down and an Indian pilot captured by Pakistan. The months of restrictions forced long detours that cost airlines millions of dollars.

Meanwhile, addressing a press conference after the cabinet meeting, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said Prime Minister Imran Khan, as the voice of the nation, will advocate the Kashmiris’ cause at the United Nations General Assembly while activities will be held across Pakistan every Friday to highlight the Kashmir issue. She said the prime minister took the cabinet into confidence about the steps taken by the government on the Kashmir issue. The prime minister told the cabinet about the efforts to highlight the Kashmir issue at international forums and the government’s strategy for future, she added.

The cabinet endorsed the prime minister’s decision to observe every Friday as Kashmir Solidarity Day and his efforts to turn the Kashmir issue into a movement.

Dr Firdous said a focal group has been established and during its meeting, opposition members Mushahid Hussain Sayed of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Naveed Qamar of the Pakistan People’s Party supported the government’s priorities on Kashmir. She said Prime Minister Imran Khan has become a voice for the Kashmiris as he has turned the Kashmir issue into a movement. Protests on the streets of Pakistan will be a message to the world that it will have to ‘do more’ to resolve the Kashmir issue, she added.

She said the cabinet discussed different options to give momentum to the Kashmir freedom movement by arranging activities on every Friday. School and college students, labourers, farmers, and employees of government departments, hospitals and other institutions will show their solidarity to the Kashmir cause, sending an effective message to the world about the issue, she added.

The cabinet also discussed various initiatives of the ministries. The prime minister was told that as people are facing hassles at the Foreign Office, so a token system has been introduced to facilitate them on problems related to issuance of visas and jobs abroad.

The aviation ministry told the cabinet that the Pakistan Meteorological Department is devising a plan to give timely information about the weather to farmers in agricultural areas. The cabinet was informed that seats for the disabled will be reserved on the intercity transport. It was further informed that fee has been waived off for those who will remit money from foreign countries through Post Office.

The special assistant said a fund of $1.5 billion of Japanese agency JICA will be used for improving the sanitation and water supply systems. The Economic Affairs Ministry told the cabinet that seed money of Rs 80 billion will be used for providing affordable housing to the low-income people. The prime minister directed that timely completion of the projects and capacity building of human resource should be ensured.

The human rights ministry informed the cabinet about the laws passed for stopping child abuse and for protection of rights of transgender community which will be empowered and given job opportunities. It said the government will pay fines of those prisoners who are in prisons beyond their sentence terms as they do not have the money.

The cabinet expressed reservation over increase in child abuse and child pornography, and asked the relevant ministry to take measures for curbing the incidents of child abuse. The prime minister agreed with the suggestion that a centre should be established in Islamabad for the rehabilitation of victims of drug abuse.

Minister for information technology informed the cabinet about the steps for export of Pakistani IT manpower and setting of priorities for capacity building of youth in areas of internet and broadband services.

The law minister apprised the cabinet about online ‘Imran Khan Legal Aid’ project for the poor and vulnerable sections so that they can get free legal assistance.

The religious affairs minister told the cabinet about the facilities that are provided to the Hajj pilgrims. He said gurdwaras and temples will be restored and opened for public, adding that a gurdwara has already been opened in Peshawar after its restoration.

Minister for railways told the cabinet that 50 percent discount in fare will be given to 65-year-old passengers and four free tickets every year to those above 75 years of age. The Pakistan Railways has managed to save 3.7 million liters of fuel, while additional trains have been put in operation to facilitate passengers, he said.

The cabinet was told that heads of 30 institutions have been appointed. One-window operation has started at the Protectorate of Emigrant offices. Home-based workers will be registered so that they can get pension through Employees Old Age Benefit Institution (EOBI). A databank will be established to collect details about family members of overseas Pakistanis. Quota of disabled students will be raised to four percent for seats in the colleges for overseas Pakistanis.

The cabinet was told that now gas consumers will be given 15 days to pay their bills. It was also informed that the processing time for application for Prime Minister Kamyab Jawan youth internship programme will be 30 days and Rs 100 will be charged as fee.

To a question regarding rumours about Special Assistant to Prime Minister Nadeem Afzal Chan, Dr Firdous said his presence in the cabinet meeting is the proof that he is performing his duties and the rumours are misleading.

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