ISLAMABAD – The federal cabinet on Tuesday unanimously reposed confidence in the leadership of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and applauded his conduct in the Supreme Court.  Briefing the media persons after the cabinet meeting, Information Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said the cabinet members including those from the allied parties lauded the Prime Minister’s leadership qualities and spirit shown in the court.

Gilani thanked the cabinet and said he was premier “due to the support of members of parliament, his cabinet colleagues and of the coalition partners”. The cabinet decided in principal to grant Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India at a time when Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma is visiting Pakistan with a large trade delegation.

The minister said the cabinet directed the Ministry of Commerce to consult all stockholders before preparing and finalising negative and positive lists for trade with India. She said the meeting approved signing of three trade related agreements with India, which include Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters agreement, bilateral cooperation agreement on mutual recognition between Pakistan Standard and Quality Control Authority and Bureau of Indian Standards and Agreement on Redressal of Trade Grievances between Pakistan and India. The cabinet endorsed the Economic Coordination Committee’s decision to raise sugar price by Rs3 to Rs 45 per kg at Utility Stores. Firdous said the cabinet appreciated the role of National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) in preparation of computerised electoral rolls carrying photographs of the voters.  She said that the cabinet was informed that a special paper will be imported for publication of ballot papers so that the doors of rigging should be closed for ever. About the implementation of 18th Amendment Bill, she said that 18 ministries had been devolved to the provinces.

Strengthening the provinces is the agenda of government because strong provinces will guarantee a strong federation, she added. She said the government has formed a committee for reviewing petroleum prices and its recommendations are awaited.

The minister said cabinet reviewed the implementation status of its decisions pertaining to the ministries of Information Technology (IT) and Telecom, Inter-Provincial Coordination, and Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs. 

The cabinet was also apprised that its 94 per cent decisions regarding Inter-Provincial Coordination and Law Divisions have also been implemented. The minister said a committee, comprising Attorney General for Pakistan, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Begum Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Secretary Law, Minister for Petroleum, Secretary Finance and Member of Higher Education Commission, has been constituted to discuss the proposed amendments in the Pakistan Institute of Fashion and Design Act, 2011.

Agencies add: The Cabinet also decided to hand over control of Lahore’s Shaikh Zayed Hospital to Punjab government after approval of 20th Amendment by the National Assembly.