LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif presided over a meeting of provincial cabinet here on Wednesday which reiterated the determination to defeat terrorists and extremists.

The Punjab cabinet also gave approval to various steps for the empowerment of women and protection of their rights as well as necessary legislation in this regard. Amendments in family laws to check exploitation of women besides their empowerment were also approved in the meeting.

The cabinet also decided to observe World Women’s Day on March 8 in an enthusiastic manner. Moreover, setting up of Punjab Working Women Endowment Fund and establishment of family courts complex in each district were also approved.

The meeting decided to give three year’s special relaxation to women in age limit for employment while it was also decided that only women will operate canteens in educational institutions for women. Similarly, all columns relating to the women rights in Nikkah Nama (marriage certificate) will have to be filled.

 “More than 50 per cent population of Pakistan comprises women and the country cannot progress without their empowerment,” the chief minister said while addressing the meeting. He added that women would have to display their talent and abilities in the practical field for the progress and prosperity of the country. The job quota for women has been increased from 5 to 15 per cent while necessary legislation has also been made for ensuring share of women in inheritance, he further said.

Shahbaz said that Punjab government was taking revolutionary measures for empowering women and protecting their rights.

The Punjab cabinet also expressed its resolve to eliminate terrorism, extremism and sectarianism from the society and it was declared that no effort would be spared for rooting out terrorists as they were enemies of the country and the nation.

Referring to the tragic incidents of terrorism, Shahbaz Sharif said that innocent children were brutally martyred in Peshawar while the terrorists also shed the blood of innocent people in Shikarpur, Hayatabad and Lahore which is highly condemnable. He said that 16/12 has awakened the nation and 18 crore people of Pakistan are fully united against terrorism. He said that victory is the only option in the war against terrorism and all energies will be utilized for making Pakistan a safe and peaceful country. He said that Punjab government has set up a fully trained Counter Terrorism Force after two years of hard work and its first batch has passed out. He said that passing out of the second batch will be held in April while of the third batch in August. He said that Counter Terrorism Force will play a vanguard role in the elimination of terrorism. He said that by setting up Counter Terrorism Force in accordance with the vision of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, a dream has been materialized. He said that Punjab government has taken immediate and effective measures with regard to implementation of National Action Plan. He said that instructions have been issued to concerned authorities to ensure foolproof security of mosques, Imambarghs and worship places. He said that besides terrorists and extremists, their facilitators will also have to be eliminated. The Chief Minister said that a consolidated intelligence system is of vital importance in the war against terrorism as it can help eliminate the scourge of terrorism.

 He said that Counter Terrorism Force has got training from master trainers from abroad. He said that efforts will have to be made on war footing for elimination of terrorism. He said that Punjab government is utilizing modern technology for the elimination of terrorism and work is in progress on Safe City Project. He said that this project will start from Lahore and its cope will be extended to Rawalpindi, Multan, Faisalabad, Bahawalpur and other cities during the next three years.

He said that this project is of vital importance for making cities safe and peaceful. Shahbaz Sharif said that under this project modern technology will also be used for improving law and order. He said that sincere efforts and national spirit would have to be displayed for providing a peaceful and secure environment to the citizens. “Though it is a big challenge but the government is determined to restore peace in the society,” he said, adding that Pakistan has the world’s best trained army which is capable to deal with any challenge and the nation is proud of its armed forces.

The meeting also gave approval to inclusion of the topics on tolerance, peace and brotherhood in the educational syllabus as well as to arrange essay writing and speech contests in educational institutions.

Referring to the discovery and certification of precious mineral reserves in Chiniot-Rajwa, the chief minister said that experts conducted drilling at ten places in an area of 24 square kilometers and besides iron reserves copper deposits had also been discovered from all the sites. He said that according to experts, these precious reserves were spread over an area of 2000 square kilometers. He said that the Chinese company and German consultants were working for making an estimate of these reserves and would soon complete their work. He said that survival and prosperity of Pakistan was depending upon the best utilization of these resources.

The chief minister and Provincial Cabinet also offered special prayers for the departed souls of martyrs of the blast outside Police Lines Lahore, Shikarpur, Hayatabad and Army Public School Peshawar. Preliminary report regarding the suicide attack on Police Lines Qila Gujjar Singh was also presented in the meeting.