ISLAMABAD - The Federal Cabinet Wednesday decided to constitute a special unit at the Prime Minister House and promulgate a whistle-blower law for early recovery of the public money embezzled through corruption and the wealth stashed abroad illegally.
The cabinet meeting was held here with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair.
Briefing the journalists about the meeting, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar and Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that the government was determined to bring back all the looted money and spend it for the welfare of the people.
Earlier in the day, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar decided to form a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) in a case pertaining to alleged money laundering of Rs35 billion. During hearing in Supreme Court, the top judge rejected Federal Investigation Agency (FIA)’s request to hold investigation in Islamabad and ordered to carry out probe in Sindh against former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur.
Shahzad Akbar said that a whistle-blower law was being enforced immediately through an ordinance envisaging reward worth 20 percent for those who would help recover corruption money. The names of the informers, he said, would be kept confidential.
The special assistant said that another ordinance on mutual legal assistance was being issued which would help remove bottlenecks in the way of seeking information from foreign countries on illegal wealth. He said that the prime minister had directed the ministry of foreign affairs to dispatch a high-powered delegation to Switzerland to expedite ratification of the treaty on exchange of information on bank accounts. He said that the treaty was signed in 2013 but had not been ratified.
Shahzad Akbar said that the government would also hire firms that would detect and help recover illegal money and in the case of recovery, the firm would get an agreed share of the recovered sums. He said that the prime minister would get reports on implementation of these measures on fortnightly basis, which would also be submitted to the Supreme Court.
Replying to media questions, Shahzad Akbar said the Federal Investigation Agency had detected properties of thousands of Pakistanis in a foreign country made from the stolen money. Around one hundred big fish would be focused and misappropriated money would be recovered from them, he added.
PM’S LAPTOP SCHEME ABOLISHED
Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry said that Rs80 billion had been saved and returned to Finance Ministry under the head of discretionary funds, which had been banned by the prime minister. He said that schemes like Prime Minister’s Laptop Scheme had been abolished and the funds had been returned to the Finance Ministry.
The cabinet also took notice of a media report about premature commissioning of Tarbela extension-4 project causing a loss of Rs25 billion to the national exchequer. The cabinet also decided that education, health and water sectors would be driven from federation.
UNIFORM EDUCATION SYSTEM
A task force was constituted on education led by Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood, which will include prominent educationists, representatives of religious seminaries and skill development bodies. First objective is to bring 250 million out-of-school children to education network. A uniform education and certification system would be enforced throughout the country. It was decided to consult provinces on hike in fees by private schools.
Also, it was decided that funds will be spent on establishing centres for street children and women. The cabinet gave instructions to provide easy access in all buildings for disabled people, both at the federal and provincial levels.
DIRECTIVE FOR FOREIGN MISSIONS
Ministry of Foreign Affairs was directed to improve attitude with overseas Pakistanis. A strict notice will be taken if complaints were received against attitude of staff deputed at foreign missions and embassies worldwide, the cabinet warned.
The cabinet directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to collect data of over 10,000 Pakistanis incarcerated in various countries. Of these, 3,000 are in Iran, mostly in drug-related offences. As Iran has amended its anti-drug law in recent days, it is hoped that a large number of Pakistanis will get relief.
UPHOLDING MINORITIES’ RIGHTS STATE’S RESPONSIBILITY
Fawad Chaudhry said that minorities enjoyed equal rights in Pakistan, adding that Islam is a religion of peace. The minister maintained that it is the responsibility of the Islamic republic to uphold the rights of its minorities.
Responding to a question about Atif Mian’s appointment, Fawad said: “Protection of minorities is an integral part of Islam. When we speak about Khatm-i-Nabuwwat, we recognise that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the last prophet. And along with that we also recognise Islamic education.”
“It was an integral part of the state of Madinah that minorities would be protected there. Minorities here will be given rights. Pakistan is an Islamic republic... And why was Pakistan itself created? What was the issue when Hindustan was united? That the Muslim minority faced a lot of cruelty. On the basis of that, we separated from that country. Should we now disregard that basis [for the creation of Pakistan]?” he asked.
“Is it not said that if you take one life, it is like killing all of mankind?” he continued. “If you think that we should drown all our minorities in the Arabian Sea, or that they have no rights here, they have no religious or economic freedom, or freedom to live then this must be your opinion only. Our interpretation of the state of Madinah is that Islam means security, peace and moving forward together,” he asserted.
“It is not just the responsibility of the government to protect minorities, it is the responsibility of each Muslim,” he reiterated. “Because of these things,” Fawad said, referring to the persecution of minorities, “The entire world makes fun of us.”
Special unit , whistle-blower law to recover looted wealth