Ministerial panel to dig out Broadsheet claim

Amid Broadsheet LLC owner Kaveh Moussavi’s startling allegations that the Sharif family had offered him a sum of money to drop the probe against them, the federal cabinet on Tuesday constituted an inter-ministerial committee to look into the matter.

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz in his post-cabinet news briefing said that the cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, formed the committee to further dissect the matter by minutely probing the case and share the findings with public soon.

Apart from looking into how the country’s wealth was looted, the government’s spokesperson said, the committee will also examine the claim that a cousin of the disgraced prime minister had approached the asset recovery firm, asking it to negotiate and remove Sahrif family’s name from the matter.

“We don’t deal with crooks,” the information minister quoted Moussavi as saying to the representative.

The minister said that the issue started in 2000 but went into a cold storage after the PML-N and the PPP were given an NRO, adding 200 names were given to the firm of people who had “illegally” took the country’s wealth abroad.

He said that the decision to make the committee has come after Moussavi’s interview and the decision of a high court in England — imposing penalty on NAB.

Faraz said that the committee will make revelations about the Broadsheet matter within a few days so that the people who made a mockery of the national institutions; caused losses to the national exchequer and pushed the country into a litigation; which resulted in embarrassment for the whole country, should be exposed.

Meanwhile, sources said, the cabinet members expressed displeasure over electricity breakdown in the country after the initial report was presented before it.

Also Read: UK court orders $28.7m payment to Broadsheet

Briefing the cabinet, Energy Minister Omar Ayub said that the power breakdown was due to a human error and action was being taken against the negligent employees.

The sources said, the prime minister, however, appeared to be unhappy about the minister’s explanation.

Among other important issues, the cabinet decided to enhance the auditor general’s powers for greater transparency and gave a go ahead for a crackdown against filling stations involved in selling smuggled fuel.

The cabinet, while being apprised of the steps taken to curb petrol smuggling, was informed that the government has to bear a loss of Rs180 billion from the sale of illegal and smuggled fuel.

The information minister said the crackdown began on Tuesday, adding 192 petrol filing stations involved in allegedly selling substandard fuel across the country had already been sealed.

He said some 2,094 other petrol pumps involved in selling smuggled petrol have been identified and legal action will be taken against them.

He added that the sealed filling stations have been directed to furnish record of their sale and purchase within one week.

During the newss conference, Faraz said Adviser on Institutional Reforms Dr Ishrat Hussain informed the cabinet that more than 100 departments of the federal government have already been closed or merged with other departments to reduce the financial burden on the government and improve its performance.

The cabinet was also informed that the digitisation process is being introduced in the Accountant General Pakistan Revenues (AGPR) which will help eradicate financial corruption.

Also, the cabinet approved in principle legal amendments to make the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) more empowered, autonomous and transparent, saying the amendments will enable the use of digital technology and innovation in audit procedures.

Faraz said that the government is working hard to bring institutional reforms and soon it will present its performance before public.

Among other things, the cabinet approved the terms of appointment of the director general under the Legal Aid and Justice Authority Act, 2020; the authority will provide financial and legal assistance to the deserving and weaker sections to get justice.

The cabinet also approved the status of FIA Commercial Bank Circle Lahore as a police station under the FIA Act, 1974. After the approval, the jurisdiction of FIA police station will be extended to Lahore, Kasur, Sheikhupura, Nankana Sahib and Okara and taking legal action against banking crimes will be possible.

The Special Assistant for Health informed the cabinet that a law was being introduced across the country to end syringe reuse. Moving on to other agenda items, the cabinet expressed deep concern over the cases of growing disappearances and directed that legislation be enacted to address the issue.

The cabinet authorised the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ma’arif Foundation Turkey and the Federal Ministry of Education for the promotion of education.

It also approved the deployment of Pakistan Rangers to maintain law and order during the by-elections in Sindh.

During question-answer session, Faraz said that the government exempted the import of Covid-19 vaccine from the PPRA rules to save time and make vaccine available for people as soon as possible.

The cabinet also assured parents of the young Osama Satti, who was shot dead in Islamabad the other day by police, of legal action and justice.

Faraz said that an inquiry will be conducted to the satisfaction of Satti’s family and the culprits will be brought to justice.

(This story has been published from The Express Tribune feed, without modifications to the text)