The Sindh government has approved a proposal to make the Sindh High Court’s retired judge Rasheed A Razvi the first chairman of the long-awaited provincial commission for the protection of journalists and other media practitioners.
The announcement was made by Information Minister Sharjeel Memon on Wednesday while briefing the media about the decisions taken in the meeting of the Sindh cabinet. Being formed as prescribed in the Sindh Protection of Journalists and Other Media Practitioners Act 2021, the commission’s members are Fahim Siddiqui, representing the journalist community, Kazi Asad Abdi of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society and Dr Jabbar Khattak of the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors.
Other members are Muhammad Athar Kazi of the Pakistan Broadcasters Association, Ayaz Hussain Tunio of the Sindh Bar Council, Prof Tauseef Ahmed Khan of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Shazia Umar and Syeda Marvi Faseeh of the Sindh Assembly, and Ghulam Fariduddin of the All Pakistan Newspaper Employees Confederation.
The secretaries of the provincial government’s departments of information, home, law and human rights will be the ex-officio members of the new commission. Information Secretary Abdul Rasheed Solangi had told the cabinet meeting earlier in the day that Sindh had become the first province in the country to formally constitute a commission to protect journalists and other media practitioners.
He said the forming of the commission would go a long way in providing a sense of security to the fraternity of journalists to perform their duties impartially, independently, fearlessly and without coming under any undue pressure or influence. He said the commission comprises 14 persons, with nine of them being private members.
Covid risk allowance
Memon told the media that the Sindh government cannot restore the Covid-19 risk allowance of doctors, nurses and paramedics of public hospitals and other healthcare facilities in the province.
Regarding the ongoing protest by healthcare providers, he said the provincial government is willing to talk with them, adding that the government acknowledges their services during the coronavirus emergency.
However, he pointed out, it is unfeasible for the government to continue spending Rs22 billion annually on the Covid risk allowance. He reminded the doctors of Sindh’s public hospitals that they are getting better privileges than their counterparts in other provinces. He stressed that medical professionals should not suspend outpatient services at the health facilities. He urged them to end their protest and talk to the government about their just demands.
Memon said Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan should tell the people from where he had got the funds to buy the precious watches belonging to the Toshakhana. He said the PTI chief’s financial statements submitted to the Election Commission of Pakistan had made it clear that Khan did not have the financial strength to buy such precious items.
He also said everybody knows who the front woman was in such fraudulent deals involving the PTI chairman. He claimed that the same front woman had been receiving corrupt money against transfers and postings in the Punjab administration.
The information minister said that if the woman had been so honest, she should not have escaped the country after the end of the PTI’s regime. He said that while abroad, the woman had been continuously running her racket to receive bribes for transfers from and postings on key positions in Punjab.
He lamented that the ousted prime minister had made a fool out of the public on the issue of the diplomatic cipher for six to eight months. He said Khan had become used to taking U-turns on his political standpoints.
“There are greater chances that Imran Khan himself had staged the drama of the attack on him, because he’s not James Bond who could go to Lahore at a distance of 150 kilometres to seek emergency treatment after suffering four bullets.”
He said that on one occasion the PTI had claimed that Khan had been hit by two bullets, while on another occasion it was claimed that four bullets had injured the party chief. The minister said the PTI chairman had been seeking a safe passage to end his long march after realising that his latest call to stage a protest in Punjab had failed to mobilise the masses.
He appealed to the interior minister to constitute a federal medical board to determine the exact number of bullets that had hit Khan in the attack.
He said the PTI chief had earlier made an attempt to make the judiciary controversial, while a fresh bid had been launched to create controversy regarding another important national institution.
He added that Pakistan’s armed forces have been performing their duties in accordance with the constitution and the law, and they are busy guarding the national frontiers. He claimed that a fresh protest had been launched by Khan to avoid punishment on account of his involvement in cases of money laundering and prohibited foreign funding of the PTI.
The meeting of the Sindh cabinet held with Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah in chair approved Rs50 billion for the construction of houses damaged in this year’s floods in the province.
“Each and every owner of the damaged house would be given Rs50,000 to start construction, and when the construction reaches the plinth level, the remaining Rs250,000 would be transferred to his bank account to complete the construction,” the CM decided in consultation with his cabinet.
The cabinet approved Rs50 billion for the housing project for flood victims to spend the amount on completely destroyed houses for the time being so that the project might start the disbursement of funds to the affected people until the World Bank’s financing is also available for the purpose.
The advisory group decided to engage well-reputed non-governmental organisations to complete the housing project so that the entire process would remain transparent.
It may be noted that 1.7 million houses have been damaged by floods in Sindh, while their construction would cost Rs160 billion, of which the WB has pledged Rs110 billion, and the remaining is being arranged by the provincial government from the Centre and through different sources and donors.
The home department presented amendments to the Sindh Prohibition of Preparation, Manufacturing, Storage, Sale, and Use of Gutka and Mainpuri Act 2019 before the cabinet, saying that they are pending with the relevant standing committee of the provincial assembly.
The advisory group approved the amendments as per the order passed by the high court regarding the incorporation of certain additional amendments in the existing Act to create deterrence against the unlawful preparation, manufacturing, storage, sale, and use of Gutka, Mainpuri and betel nuts.
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