Govt cannot allow Maryam Nawaz to fly abroad without any concrete reasons: Firdous Ashiq


ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan Tuesday said the federal government cannot allow PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz to fly abroad without any ‘concrete reasons’.

“Why does she need to visit her ailing father in London when all of her relatives including her siblings are there to take care of him,” she told a press conference following a federal cabinet meeting in Islamabad. She said Maryam’s application is under consideration of federal cabinet’s sub-committee. However, she hinted that the government is not willing to strike off the travel ban over ‘weak grounds’. “Law minister [Farogh Naseem] apprised the federal cabinet that there is no law which allows convicts to travel abroad to visit their ailing relatives,” she added.

The statement comes a day after the Lahore High Court referred Maryam Nawaz’s plea for removal of her name from the no-fly list to the federal government. Maryam had moved the LHC for the removal of her name from the ECL so that she could stay with her father in London, who is undergoing treatment in a hospital there.

During the weekly meeting of the cabinet, Water Resources Minister Faisal Vawda reportedly opposed the departure of Maryam Nawaz, a view supported by many of the cabinet members as well as the prime minister.

Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said the industrial sector was given Rs 29 billion subsidy whereas Rs 100 billion subsidy was given to the agriculture sector. She said the prime minister has directed the Water and Power Division to bring the summary of fixed billing for tube-well farmers in the next meeting.

She said the Oil and Gas Division informed the cabinet that it inherited Rs 181 billion deficit due to bad policies of the previous government but it formulated a structural plan to save the consumers from major increase in gas bills. She said that the cabinet was informed that Rs 10 billion subsidy was given to the fertilizer industry to ensure stability in the prices of fertilizers. She said the domestic consumers were given Rs 19 billion subsidy last year whereas the estimate of the subsidy for ongoing year is Rs 30 billion.

The special assistant said the cabinet strongly condemned Indian Lok Sabha for passing the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 to offer citizenship to the people belonging to different religions living in different countries. “This legislation exposes the so-called secular face of the Indian government and its pragmatic depiction of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideology,” she added.

Dr Firdous said the cabinet expressed its displeasure over unnecessary projection of the absconders and convicted criminals and telecast of their statements on news channels by certain media outlets. The cabinet members viewed that there is no precedent in any civilized society to allow such criminals involved in plundering billions of rupees from the national exchequer to use the media as a tool. The minister for water resources informed the cabinet meeting that he has written a letter to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to draw its attention towards this issue. The law ministry, she said, has been directed to devise a mechanism in coordination with PMERA and media stakeholders to curb the practice.

The cabinet approved to transform all the hospitals under the federal government’s umbrella into state of the art healthcare facilities equipped with the latest medical gadgets. The respective hospitals for the purpose could bring any technical change in their building structures from any institution other than PWD (Public Works Department).

It also gave approval for the appointment of Justice Abdullah Baloch of Balochistan High Court as Special Judge of Appellant Court Balochistan to curb smuggling in the province which was hindering the local industry’s growth.

The cabinet approved the appointment of Irfan Mustafa, Zulqarnain Ali Khan and Haris Chaudhary as members of the board of governors of Overseas Pakistanis Foundation, and reconstitution of the governing body of Workers Welfare Fund.

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