The federal cabinet on Tuesday decided to place the names of 10 people on the Exit Control List (ECL), including former special assistant to the prime minister Shahzad Akbar, at the request of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
According to a statement issued after a meeting of the cabinet, 22 names have been removed from the ECL and one-time travel permission has been granted to three others on the recommendation of the Interior Ministry. It said that in addition to Akbar, Ziaul Mustafa Naseem—a legal expert in the Assets Recovery Unit that had been led by Akbar—had also been placed on the ECL on NAB’s urging.
Neither Akbar nor Naseem are currently in Pakistan, with Akbar having left the country in April. According to reports, they are both in the U.K. and would be arrested immediately upon their return to Pakistan before being placed in custody of relevant law enforcement agencies.
The case against Akbar concerns his role in allegedly returning to Bahria Town owner Malik Riaz Rs. 50 billion in funds that had been confiscated by the U.K.’s National Crime Agency (NCA) and returned to the Government of Pakistan. According to Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, the Bahria Town owner secured this “deal” by allotting 458 kanals of land to the Al-Qadir Trust, which is owned by PTI Chairman Imran Khan and his wife, Bushra Bibi. The PTI, however, maintains that the funds were returned to Riaz through validly executed legal obligation with the NCA.
The cabinet also rejected a summary for an increase in the prices of 35 medicines, according to the statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office. There was also a discussion on the recent increase to the price of petrol, with several lawmakers criticizing it amidst a global downturn in tariffs.
During the meeting, the cabinet validated several decisions of the Economic Coordination Committee, including the Authorization of Government Married Accommodation to Defense Security Force Personnel (Amendment to Army Regulations, 1998); Amendment to Annex A to Rule 11 of Scales of Rations and Supplies (Regulations), 2015; and Amendments to the National Skills University Act, 2018; Appointment of Law Officers in Office of the Advocate General, ICT, by Amending the President’s Order 1 of 2015; and Pakistan Veterinary Medical Council Employees Service Regulations, 2022.
The cabinet also approved the Ministry of Finance’s recommendation to fix the minimum limit of Diyat for 2022-23 to 30,630 grams of silver, or approximately Rs. 430,000.
The cabinet was given a detailed briefing on the impacts of climate change in Pakistan. The meeting was informed that Pakistan had been included among the top eight worst climate-affected countries in the world during the last 10 years, which was a matter of grave concern. The briefing stated that climate change had a negative impact on natural resources, with a rise in population also being cited.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said climate change, water security and food security were three inter-connected challenges and the government must take immediate steps to overcome these issues to protect future generations.
The cabinet unanimously approved the constitution of a committee, headed by Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman and comprising relevant ministers, to present recommendations on tackling the impacts of climate change over the short-, medium- and long-terms.