Uniform syllabus for education institutions, madressahs approved, says Firdous Ashiq

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet approved a uniform curriculum for all education institutions in the country, including 30,000 madressahs (religious seminaries).

During a meeting, the cabinet vowed that there would be no power load-shedding during Ramazan. It also decided to renew licences of mobile cell phone companies for 15 years which will fetch $1.3 billion.

The cabinet approved installation of automatic metering system to revamp power supply and distribution system and overcome the issue of circular debt forever.

Cabinet vows there will be no power load-shedding during Ramazan

However, the expected approval for the appointment of Syed Shabbar Zaidi as chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) was not given as the summary regarding his appointment was not presented before the cabinet.

Addressing a post-cabinet meeting press conference, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan said that the cabinet held a thorough discussion on the uniform syllabus for all education institutions in the country, including 30,000 seminaries which are presently being run under the umbrella of Wifaqul Madaris.

Ms Awan was accompanied by Federal Minister for Energy Umar Ayub.

“It is the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan to enforce a uniform curriculum across the country,” the special assistant said.

She said the government did not want to bring all madressahs under its supervision, but they would be attached to the government. “The government will also monitor bank transactions and foreign funding of religious seminaries,” she added.

Interestingly, since an initiative by the government of former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf, many attempts have been made in the country to bring religious seminaries under the ambit of the government and to introduce uniform syllabus across the country, but all such efforts remained in vain.

Minister for Energy Umar Ayub claimed that there would be no power load-shedding during Ramazan. He said the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) had proposed 3.4 per cent increase in electricity charges, but the government had increased it by 1.87pc with an assurance that the revised rate would not be applied to 75 per cent consumers.

He criticised the previous government of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) for leaving behind to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government the circular debt of over Rs450 billion. He said that it was one of the major reasons of power load-shedding in the country. He vowed that the government would reduce circular debt in the power sector through reforms and by 2020 there would be zero circular debt in this sector.

The minister alleged that during its last days in government, the PML-N generously supplied unaccounted electricity to some power theft areas in a bid to get votes in the election from those areas.

He said the whole country would soon have an automatic metering system that would help overcome power theft. He said the government had taken stern action against those involved in electricity theft and registered 27,000 cases, besides arresting 4,225 people.

“During this Ramazan we wanted to supply electricity to the whole country, including the power theft areas, but feeders there could not bear the load of both Kundas and legitimate connection at the same time,” he said.

Ms Awan said the cabinet approved renewal of licences of the cell phone companies for the next 15 years and as a result the government would fetch $1.3 billion. She said the prime minister was given a detailed briefing in this regard. A official in the cabinet told media that the summary for the appointment of Mr Zaidi as the FBR chairman was not presented in the meeting.

“The law minister Farogh Naseem has sought some more time from the cabinet to address legal concerns on the appointment of Mr Zaidi,” the official said.

PM Khan during a chat with media persons on Monday announced the appointment of Mr Zaidi, a Karachi-based partner in chartered accounting firm A.F. Ferguson, as the new chairman of the FBR.

Talking on the expiry of the six-week bail of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday, Ms Awan criticised the PML-N for what she called “glorifying” the former premier’s return to Kot Lakhpat Jail.

“Mr Sharif has been declared a convict by the Supreme Court. He should be considered a convict not a hero and he should not be given a VIP protocol,” she added.

Calling Mr Sharif a “winner of world cup in corruption”, she said: “If Nawaz Sharif, who is a bigger convict, is given VIP protocol, then other petty convicts would have right to have a same treatment.”