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Govt revisiting NAP, NA informed

Muhammad Anis
Saturday, May 21, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb Friday said the government was revisiting the National Action Plan (NAP) in view of recent terror incidents in Karachi and other parts of the country.

The information minister maintained that unless we put our house in order and there is effective and solid infrastructure against terrorism, the country’s narrative against terrorism before the world could not be strong enough. Responding to a point of order from an opposition member and former National Assembly Speaker, Dr. Fahmida Mirza, she said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had chaired eight meetings with chief ministers, chief secretaries and other officials so that there were coordinated and focused efforts against incidents of terrorism. “Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is holding meetings with provincial officials on security, water, polio and energy issues because he has no issue of ego or arrogance as was the case with Imran Khan,” she claimed, adding that the Premier, immediately after assuming office, had held his first meeting on terrorism following an attack on Chinese nationals in Karachi.

She also told the House the government was also reviving the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) and the interior minister had held meetings to revive its infrastructure. “Terrorist incidents have again started in the country but it should also be noted that there had been no meeting of the Nacta in the last four years, which is chaired by the Prime Minister,” she added.

She pointed out that the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had finalized the NAP under the National Security Policy in 2014-15, following a terror attack on the Army Public School (APS), Peshawar, in 2014. “The last government, in around four years, completely ignored the implementation of the NAP which was finalized with consensus of all provinces, intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies,” she added.

She regretted that an individual (Imran Khan) due to his ego and proudness did not like to talk to provinces on whether it was security, water or energy issues. “The Sindh chief minister told us the former PM said meetings on polio cases was a waste of time,” she said, adding that it was a matter for concern that four polio cases had surfaced in Waziristan.

The minister said that there had been no coordination of the federal government with the provinces on the implementation of the NAP in the last four years. “From 2015 to 2018, incidents of terrorism had reduced as the federal government shared all financial and technical details of the NAP with provinces and there was a better coordination on the issue,” she said.

The minister said maligning state institutions, including the armed forces and the judiciary, on the media would not be tolerated. She pointed out there was a zero-tolerance policy in this regard while advisories and warnings had also been issued to television channels. She regretted that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders had launched an organised campaign against state institutions through their Twitter handlers. “As per the prescribed rules and regulations, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) issues warnings, fines, bans programmes and suspends transmission in case of any indecent or objectionable content against state institutions,” she elaborated.

Marriyum said people recruited to Pakistan Television and other departments of her ministry against merit and rules had been removed from jobs. Meanwhile, members from the government and opposition benches protested against power outages in Sindh. Shagufta Jumani from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Dr. Fahmida Mirza of the GDA said that contrary to the government’s claims, interior Sindh was facing 18 to 20 hours electricity loadshedding when the mercury had reached 50 degrees C. The GDA member also expressed her concern over recent terror incidents in the country.

Fahmida Mirza again regretted the absence of ministers in the House, saying that the GDA members, who were sitting on the opposition benches, were cooperating with the government only to help it pass bills and take up other issues and did not raise the issue of quorum in the House but warned that it should not happen all the time.

Maulana Abdul Chitrali of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) also demanded the minister concerned take notice of power outages in upper Chitral after a dispute with electricity distribution companies. He also expressed his reservations against the appointment of an adviser to the Higher Education Commission (HEC) having no relevant experience in the field.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly during the question hour was informed that the Pakistan Clean Air Programme had been initiated to cope with the issue of pollution and improve air quality. Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman told the House during the question hour that zigzag technology had been installed at kilns to reduce air pollution. “We have also made a commitment to convert to 60pc renewable energy by 2030. We have the resources to produce energy from clean sources,” she added.

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Murtaza Javed Abbasi told the House the present government was firming up a plan to promote digital literacy in the country. He said that a project was being implemented under which 100 smart classrooms would be made functional in universities by the end of the year.

He said the Higher Education Commission had also been working with Microsoft to ensure universities have access to digital tools and technology. He informed the House that 4G service was available in 89 percent areas of the country and the whole country would be covered in the next nine months. He said the government was also planning to launch 5G in the country. “The Ministry of Information Technology is in the process of finalizing policy guidelines for 5G in consultation with other stakeholders. The government is also reviewing law related to the HEC along with looking into other matters of the commission,” he added.

The House also passed the Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation (Amendment) Bill, 2022. It was moved by Minister of State for Finance Aisha Ghaus Pasha. The bill is aimed at strengthening the debt office with mandate and resources for effective planning and execution of debt management functions of the government. At the outset of the proceedings, the House offered Fateha for former Foreign Minister Sardar Aseff Ahmad Ali who passed away in Lahore.