ISLAMABAD - The federal cabinet, on the recommendations of the ministry of interior, has approved taking several suspicious persons into protective custody.

The federal cabinet, which met under the chair of Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday, reviewed the law and order situation in the country. Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi briefed the cabinet on the losses incurred during the three-day long countrywide protests in the wake of the Supreme Court’s acquittal of Aasia Bibi.

According to a private TV channel, while green-signalling the interior ministry’s request to take individuals into custody, the cabinet gave approval for protective custody of Rasool Khan, Waseem Akhtar, Abbas Hafeez, Mohammad Mushtaq and Sajjad Ali Mohra.

The federal cabinet also approved prisoners’ swap agreements with England and Northern Ireland.

The cabinet approved a 21-point agenda and reviewed the implementation of decisions taken during cabinet meetings in the past.

In October last, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar had met British Home Secretary Sajid Javid in London to discuss issues related to the provision of mutual legal assistance, extradition requests, prisoner transfer agreement and steps to curb money laundering as well as recovery of assets acquired through illegal means.

The cabinet meeting also approved a two-way agreement to promote diplomatic relations with Nigeria.

Shehbaz can’t head PAC: PM

Addressing the cabinet members, Prime Minister Imran Khan said Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President Shehbaz cannot be appointed as chairman of the parliament’s Public Accounts Committee as he is currently facing corruption references in courts.

Chairing a meeting of the federal cabinet here, PM Khan said his government aimed to wipe out corruption and this goal cannot be achieved with a ‘corrupt’ person as head of the PAC.

A participant of the meeting told The Nation that the premier vowed not to bow before the opposition’s pressure to appoint Shehbaz Sharif as the PAC chairman but the government was ready to consider a ‘clean’ candidate from the rival parties.

Later, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told the journalists that there was a ‘deadlock’ on the appointment of the PAC chief. He argued that the opposition members’ insistence to nominate Shehbaz Sharif as PAC chairman was only designed to save themselves from the accountability.

“How can Shehbaz Sharif hold his brother Nawaz Sharif accountable as the PAC chairman. The opposition is making hue and cry to get relief in corruption cases but it will not be possible at all,” Chaudhry contended.

There were reports that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz might quit all parliamentary committees if the government did not appoint Shehbaz Sharif as the PAC head.

Fawad Chaudhry said the government was working to bring reforms in the accountability laws and a task force headed by Law Minister Ferogh Naseem was finalising its proposals.

He said Prime Minister Khan took the federal cabinet into confidence about his “very successful” visit to China.

The cabinet hoped this visit would bring Pakistan in a position to handle the issue of balance of payments effectively.

Chaudhry said technical matters would soon be chalked out to finalise the modalities of Chinese assistance for Pakistan.

He said the cabinet approved revamping of the Evacuees Trust Properties Board to improve its functioning and better utilization of its properties.

To a question, the information minister said Aasia Bibi - acquitted by the Supreme Court last month in a blasphemy case - was in Pakistan. He denied reports about her departure to another country.

Chaudhry reminded that a review petition was pending in the Supreme Court in Aasia Bibi case and the top court was the competent authority to take a decision on the matter.

The cabinet approved a 21-point agenda, and reviewed the implementation of decisions taken during the previous cabinet meetings. Following the orders by the prime minister, a notification was issued in this regard.

Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered a ban on medical treatment of federal ministers abroad on the government’s expense.

The cabinet gave approval for protective custody of Rasool Khan, Waseem Akhtar, Abbas Hafeez, Mohammed Mushtaq and Sajjad Ali Mohra.

The meeting approved a summary empowering the Federal Board of Revenue to issue a tax directory. The bureau will publish a separate tax directory for members of the parliament.

The federal cabinet also gave a go-ahead to the appointment of a chairman at the Trading Corporation of Pakistan, and sanctioned the issuance of a charter license to Liberty Air Ltd.

The cabinet approved a Pakistan-Sri Lanka coastguard agreement, and endorsed the decisions taken by the Economic Coordination Committee.

It also approved appointment of Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera as Secretary of Investment Board.