ISLAMABAD - The Federal Cabinet on Tuesday approved five-year extension of the lease contract of Saindak Copper Gold project to Chinese firm.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chaired the federal cabinet meeting here which okayed the extension of the lease of Saindak Copper Gold Project between Saindak Metals Limited and Metallurgical Corporation of China Ltd (MCC). The existing lease agreement term would expire on October 31, 2017. Now Chinese firm will continue to work till October 30, 2022.

Addressing the federal cabinet, Prime Minister Abbasi asked members to forcefully counter the anti-Pakistan propaganda of India as Islamabad could not afford to lose to the rival nuclear-armed neighbour on any front.

A cabinet member who attended the meeting told The Nation that the PM appreciated the Pakistani diplomats in the country and around the world for giving logical replies to Indian allegations.

“The PM directed all the ministers to counter the Indian propaganda and promote Pakistan’s image in any way they can,” said the cabinet member.

Over the weekend, Pakistani Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi rejected India’s sweeping allegations about Pakistan’s involvement in terrorist acts, and accused India of sponsoring terror.

Responding to Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s speech in the UNGA, she said: “India has considerable experience in the state sponsorship of terrorism in our region.”

Sushma Swaraj had in her UNGA speech called Pakistan “the pre-eminent export factory for terror.”

Earlier at the UNGA, Abbasi urged the world to take notice of the human rights violations by India in held Kashmir and in Myanmar.

He also invited the world leaders’ attention towards India’s state-sponsored terrorism.

The cabinet member said Abbasi also asked the ministers to remain in contact with the opposition parties to create an atmosphere of harmony in and outside the parliament.

An official statement issued after the meeting said, the prime minister apprised the cabinet about his visit to the United States where he “forcefully presented Pakistan’s point of view on critical issues including the long-standing issue of Jammu and Kashmir, gross human rights violations in Indian occupied Kashmir, belligerent attitude of India, peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region, and the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.”

Abbasi, it said, also briefed the cabinet about his bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the UNGA, particularly the meetings with the US vice president, presidents of Iran and Turkey, prime minister of Sri Lanka, chief executive officer of the World Bank, executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, the UN secretary general and with the king of Jordan.

The premier said, during his meetings with the world leaders, he emphasised that Pakistan wanted a continued engagement with regional as well as international powers based on mutual respect, equality and partnership.

He underscored the need for the international community to appreciate and acknowledge the huge sacrifices and contributions made by Pakistan for regional peace and stability.

“The federal cabinet appreciated the prime minister for his bold stance and forceful presentation of Pakistan’s case before the international community,” said the statement.

Sources said that the cabinet also discussed ousted premier Nawaz Sharif’s return from London to face the corruption cases.

The PM and the ministers, the sources said, vowed to support Sharif in his “struggle”.

“We all agreed that the cases were politically motivated and Nawaz Sharif had done nothing wrong,” said a source.

He said that the ministers also expressed confidence in the leadership of Nawaz Sharif and hoped he would be able to come out clean from the accountability process.

The official statement said that secretary Power Division gave a detailed presentation on the current and future demand and supply situation of the power sector.

The cabinet, it said, was informed that the present government would add more than 11,500 MW of electricity into the system by June 2018.

“More than 6,100 MW had already been added to the system by June 2017. The cabinet was further informed that by November of this year, load-shedding would be reduced to [a] negligible level. Improvements in transmission and distribution system were also presented to the cabinet. The cabinet discussed various issues related to the power sector and appreciated the efforts made by the Ministry of Energy,” said the statement.

The cabinet approved the issuance of policy directive to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) under Section 8 of the PTA (re-organization) Act, 1996 to enable market testing of 5G technology within the regulatory environment and ensure that the new technology was ready for the market.

The appointment of Rizwan Mir was approved as the chief executive officer, Universal Service Fund under the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication.

The cabinet, on the recommendation of Defence Ministry, approved the appointment of Air Commodore Shamsul Haq as member Commercial and Air Commodore Aamir Habib Ullah Maken as member Technical of Pakistan Aeronautical Complex Board, Kamra.

The cabinet also accorded the approval of the appointment of Raja Pervaiz Akhter, district and sessions judge, as a judge of special court (control of narcotics substances) Rawalpindi, on the recommendation of the Lahore High Court, Lahore.

Appointment of Rai Nazir Ahmed, district and sessions judge, as the judge Banking Court-II Lahore was also approved by the federal cabinet.

The cabinet approved a proposal by the finance division that would enable the auditor general of Pakistan to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with its Indonesian counterpart on cooperation in public-sector auditing.

To expedite the process of development, the meeting approved a proposal to amend guidelines regarding implementation of projects under the Prime Minister’s Global Sustainable Development Goals Achievement Programme.

According to the decision taken by the cabinet, “the competent authority/forum would be authorised to approve schemes costing over Rs30 million.”

The meeting ratified decisions of Economic Coordination Committee held on August 29.

It also ratified decision taken by the Cabinet Committee on Energy during its meeting dated September 6th.

The cabinet approved a proposal “allowing persons with special needs [physically impaired, hearing/speech impaired and visually impaired] to compete in the competitive examination against all occupational groups/services,” the statement said.