Islamabad   -   As condemnation and anger over annexation of occupied Kashmir by India continues across Pakistan, the Federal Cabinet on Tuesday weighed reimposing a complete ban on use of Pakistani airspace for Indian flights.

“Federal cabinet was considering restoration of a complete ban on the use of Pakistani airspace for Indian flights,” Federal Minister for Science and Technology Chaudhry Fawad Hussain announced.

Taking to Twitter, the minister revealed that a blanket ban on use of Pakistani land routes for India’s trade with Afghanistan was also suggested during yesterday’s cabinet meeting.

He said the legal formalities for these decisions to take effect were under consideration.

The minister’s tweet comes a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan took the nation into confidence on government’s strategy regarding Indian-occupied Kashmir through a national address, vowing that Pakistan “will go to any lengths” to support cause of the oppressed Kashmiri people.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan, giving briefing to media on cabinet meeting, said that the prime minister reiterated Pakistan’s support for Kashmiris.

She said Premier Khan had expressed determination that government, leadership and people of Pakistan will fully stand by Kashmiris in their struggle for right to self-determination.

She said the prime minister took the cabinet into confidence regarding his yesterday’s speech and steps being taken by the government to internationalise the injustice and plight of Kashmiris to the world in an effective manner.

Firdous said the cabinet endorsed the prime minister’s decision to choose the sacred day of Friday to observe it as national solidarity day with Kashmiris. The cabinet hailed steps being taken by the government on highlighting the Kashmir issue and the recently set up focal group on Kashmir comprising members from both treasury and opposition.

The cabinet members assured full support to the prime minister on his upcoming address to the UN General Assembly next month.

Referring to public welfare steps of the government, the special assistant said the prime minister was briefed that token system had been introduced in Ministry of Foreign Affairs to facilitate public on first come first served basis.

Federal Minister for Aviation informed the cabinet that civil aviation department will introduce a system that will work in coordination with Meteorology Department to give timely information to people and especially farmers regarding weather conditions.

Minister for Communications Murad Saeed apprised the cabinet that services for disabled persons had been introduced in intercity public buses.

Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar informed the meeting that a decision had been made to turn all economic support from abroad into grant in aid, rather than loans.

Prime Minister directed to speed up process of completion of public development projects. He urged the cabinet members to make distinction between project planning and project implementation. Imran Khan also emphasized to arrange and manage human resource well in time so that projects are not delayed unnecessarily.

Prime Minister also directed the human rights ministry to arrange capacity building trainings for transgender community in coordination with civil society so that they could earn a respectable living.

The cabinet expressed its concern on rising online crimes including child pornography. Prime Minister Imran Khan directed the law ministry to give exemplary punishments to those involved in such heinous crimes, so that it has a deterrence effect.

The prime minister agreed to proposal of interior ministry to set up a state-of-the-art rehabilitation center for drug addicts in Islamabad, so that addicts are rehabilitated in society.

Ministry of IT shared the projects with the cabinet for increasing capacity building of youth, increasing international IT exports, and talent hunt programmes.

Law Minister Barrister Farogh Naseem apprised the cabinet on development of Imran Khan Legal Aid Helpline which will help poor, destitute and displaced persons across the country to access to speedy justice.

Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri informed the cabinet of all the initiatives to facilitate the Hujjaj. He said 700,000 people apply for visits to Iran, Syria and Iraq annually and the ministry is facilitating to increase their numbers. A policy draft in this regard will be presented to the cabinet soon. The minister for religious affairs further said that a 70-year Mandir will be rehabilitated in Sialkot while a Gurdwara closed for decades in Peshawar had been opened again.

Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad informed the cabinet that rail ticket prices had been reduced to half for persons who were 65-year-old while four free tickets will be given per annum to persons above 75 years of age. He said 3.7 million liters of diesel had been saved with effective measures to stop its pilferage. The minister said steps were also being taken to facilitate disabled persons for train travel.

Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razzak Dawood told the meeting that earlier Pakistani products were being sold worldwide with tags of different countries. The commerce ministry was now working on legislation to protect Pakistani brand name.

Adviser on Institutional Reforms Dr Ishrat Hussain informed about various measures which had resulted in improved performance of public sector institutions. It was told that heads of 30 organisations had been appointed on fair and transparent manner.

The cabinet was also informed of measures to register home based workers with EOBI after setting up a new database. Similarly, a database of overseas Pakistanis will also be set up. A special police station for overseas Pakistanis has already been set up in Islamabad to help resolve their grievances and issues.

The cabinet was also apprised that bill payment deadline of gas bills will be increased to a fortnight to give people sufficient time for bill payments.