Pakistan’s information minister claims government will conduct ‘complete reform’ of CAA after ‘dubious’ pilot licenses scandal
The “minus-one” formula referred to by Prime Minister Imran Khan during a speech in Parliament this week is a ploy of the opposition to distract from its past corruption, alleged Information Minister Shibli Faraz on Wednesday.
He told a press conference in Islamabad after a meeting of the federal cabinet that the opposition was targeting the prime minister in retaliation for his administration’s actions against “mafias” in major sectors such as the sugar industry, fuel, and construction.
“The opposition should think before saying such things and whether it will benefit the country,” said Faraz as he urged opposition parties to “repent” and bring all the “looted money” back to the country. “Prime Minister Imran Khan has no businesses of his own,” he claimed as “proof” of why the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf was not beholden to special interest groups. He did not discuss how the federal cabinet is stuffed with people with potential conflicts of interest, including Economic Affairs Minister Khusro Bakhtiar, Energy minister Omar Ayub Khan, and Special Assistant to the P.M. on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood.
Without offering any evidence, the minister claimed that previous governments had agreed to expensive power generation projects that were unsustainable. He also rejected the claims that the government’s ruling coalition had been weakened, insisting the PTI’s allies “stand with the government.”
Taking special aim at Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Faraz claimed he was not “familiar” with politics. He claimed the prime minister had emerged as a political leader by spending time on the streets with his constituents and accused the PPP of “not believing in merit and transparency in institutions.”
Civil Aviation reforms
The information minister said the federal cabinet had decided to initiate “complete reform” of the Civil Aviation Authority after Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan’s allegations of the organization signing off on more than 250 “dubious” pilot licenses.
He said the prime minister “is committed to restoring the optimum functioning of institutions and in inculcating a culture of merit and transparency,” adding that pilots whose credentials had proven false had already been removed from service.
“PIA is an organization with a great history,” Faraz said, and assured citizens that pilots currently authorized to fly planes were “100 percent in the clear.”
The minister said the cabinet had also approved three hydropower projects, adding the promotion of alternative energy projects was also discussed. He claimed that once the government was able to install cheap power generation projects, costs of the utility would inevitably decrease.
The prime minister, according to Faraz, has instructed provincial governments to implement Provincial Finance Commission awards that would ensure all districts would be provided with needed funding.
“There will be indiscriminate development work in the provinces through the finance commission,” he claimed.
The cabinet also decided to set up a committee headed by Bakhtiar to “look into public sector projects to be undertaken on reduced costs and improved quality.” It has been directed to submit a report about its progress within 90 days.
It also approved an increase in the Employees Old-Age Benefit Institution (EOBI) pension from the current Rs. 6,500 to Rs. 8,500 per month.