Premier shakes Cabinet a bit


-Shahzad Akbar’s portfolio changed from SAPM on Accountability & Interior to Adviser on Interior
-Malik Amin Aslam’s portfolio changed from Adviser to PM on Climate Change to SAPM
on Climate Change

By Ajmal Khan Yousafzai

ISLAMABAD: The portfolios of Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior, Shahzad Akbar, and Adviser to PM on Climate Change, Malik Amin Aslam, have been changed in the latest reshuffle in the federal cabinet.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior, Shahzad Akbar, has been appointed as an adviser on interior. The position of Shahzad Akbar as the interior adviser will be equivalent to the federal minister.
Moreover, the portfolio of Adviser to PM on Climate Change, Malik Amin Aslam, was also changed. He has been appointed as Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) On Climate Change. Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday appointed Barrister Mirza Shahzad Akbar as his adviser on accountability and interior with the status of a federal minister with immediate effect.
According to a notification from the Cabinet Division, Akbar “shall cease to hold the office of the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior” consequent to upon his appointment as the adviser. Akbar’s appointment as the adviser came on Prime Minister Imran Khan’s advice to President Dr Arif Alvi.
Akbar had been wearing three hats that of Special Assistant on Accountability and Interior Ministry as well as the chief of the Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) with the status of minister of state since December 2019, making him one of the powerful individuals in the PTI-led government, according to a media report.
A former official of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Akbar is a human rights lawyer who has campaigned globally for the victims of drone strikes.
He is also the director of the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, an organisation that provides legal aid to enforce fundamental rights guaranteed under the country’s constitution.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday summoned a meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) on August 7 to discuss an eight-point agenda. All the four provincial chief ministers and some members of the federal cabinet will attend the CCI’s 42nd session to be held in the federal capital. The meeting will discuss a range of issues, including amendment to the OGRA Ordinance 2002 and issue of giving control of Lower Portion Chashma Canal to Punjab. The eight-point agenda includes amendments to the Minerals Act, 1948 and the implementation of HEC decisions will be reviewed in the meeting. The suggestions will be presented in the upcoming meeting on the issue of water distribution among provinces in the light of decisions taken in the previous CCI meeting.
According to an agenda, the CCI meeting will consider national strategy against the coronavirus pandemic while the implementation of taxes, LNG import and other important decisions will be reviewed in the meeting. The participants will also review the implementation on the decisions taken during the previous CCI meetings. In the last CCI meeting, Prime Minister Imran Khan had said that all provinces would be given their fair share and the government would resolve the complexities pertaining to the issue of funds’ allotment. The CCI’s 41st session, which had a 16-point agenda, included a discussion on national-level issues between the Centre and provinces. The PM underscored that all four provinces Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Punjab would be given their fair share of money.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday directed placing facts related to gas sector before Council of Common Interests to resolve issues with coordination and professional expertise. The prime minister gave this direction to his Special Assistant on Petroleum Division while chairing a meeting on matters related to gas sector. The meeting was attended by Federal Ministers Pervaiz Khattak, Shibli Faraz, Dr. Fehmida Mirza, Asad Umar, Umar Ayub Khan, and Special Assistants Nadeem Babar and Dr. Shahbaz Gul. The meeting held in-depth discussion on the supply and demand of gas in the country, and the sector’s infrastructure, problems and future needs.
The Prime Minister said in view of growing domestic and industrial demand in gas sector amid limited reserves, there was an urgent need for comprehensive planning. He said the gas-related issues did not belong to a particular province, but were linked with the entire country. Therefore, there is a need to formulate future course of action through mutual consultation on gas sector issues, he added. The prime minister also directed holding consultations with eminent experts in the field to find a lasting solution.
Moreover, Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday stressed upon provision of better facilities and arrangements in the existing health centers of Punjab province, besides ensuring availability of latest quality health services. He also underlined that special attention should be paid to run the newly established health centers on modern lines and in an organized manner. The prime minister was chairing a meeting to review upgradation of health sector in the Punjab province, PM office media wing in a press release said. The meeting was attended by Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz, Minister for Planning Asad Umar, Advisor on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, Punjab ministers Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht, Dr Yaseem Rashid, PM’s Assistants Lt. Gen. (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa, Dr Shahbaz Gil, chief secretary Punjab and other senior officials.
The prime minister was briefed in detail about improvement and upgradation in the health sector in Punjab province, especially progress on federal government’s assisted projects and their benefits for the pubic. The prime minister was apprised of provision of quality health facilities in cities like Gujranwalla, Lahore, Bhawalnagar, Bhawalpur, Layyah, Rajinpur, Attock, Mianwali and Chakwal where latest health centers including maternity hospitals and nursing centers were being established costing about Rs 80 to Rs 90 billion. During the current year, about Rs17 billion would be spent, it was told and federal government’s cooperation was sought in this regard. The prime minister directed the Punjab government to encourage private-public partnership for the improved health system. Referring to incentives on import of machinery by the federal government, provision of abandoned properties at affordable prices for the hospitals and educational institutions, he said encouragement of private-public partnership in the health sector was the government’s top priority and assured all possible facilities in this regard.
The prime minister regretted that in the past, health facilities in the backward areas of the province had unfortunately been neglected. He also emphasized upon focusing on the maternity health centers because these places lacked facilities. Later, the prime minister was also briefed on different projects for better arrangements over water resources and irrigation in the province.
Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan in a telephone call with Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina offered condolences on the loss of lives due to COVID-19 in Bangladesh. The premiere also commended measures taken by the leadership of Bangladesh to contain the spread of the virus, according to a statement. Both leaders exchanged views on their respective steps to deal with the myriad challenges posed by COVID-19. PM Khan apprised his Bangladeshi counterpart about his Global Initiative on Debt Relief for developing countries. The prime minister extended commiserations on the material and human losses due to recent flooding in Bangladesh and prayed for the early recovery of the people affected by the natural calamity.
Reaffirming Pakistan’s commitment to SAARC, Prime Minister Imran Khan underlined the importance of both countries working for enhanced regional cooperation for sustainable peace and prosperity. Apprising the Bangladeshi counterpart of the deteriorating situation in Occupied Kashmir, the premier shared Pakistan’s perspective on the grave situation in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and stressed the importance of a peaceful resolution to the crisis. Extending an invitation to the Bangladeshi prime minister to visit Pakistan, the premier said that Pakistan wants a relationship with Bangladesh based on trust, mutual respect, and sovereignty. “Pakistan is committed to deepening relations with Bangladesh on the basis of mutual trust, respect and sovereign equality,” he added.