ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said that the government will not create any hurdle in the way of Azadi Marchers as long as JUI-F and other opposition parties follow the agreement.

“The government will not create hurdles if the marchers remain peaceful and within the legal boundaries but a strict action will be taken if the agreement is violated,” the Prime Minister made it clear while chairing an important meeting of the federal cabinet here.

The federal cabinet is understood to have deliberated upon the JUI-F-led Azadi March for a little over an hour, and the meeting was informed that government’s negotiations committee headed by Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak is monitoring the situation on a daily basis.

The Prime Minister said that the government negotiations committee engaged with the opposition leadership on Azadi March is completely independent to tackle the situation.

According to Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, the government strongly believes in democratic norms and expects the same from the opposition. When asked whether the cabinet discussed the deteriorating health of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, she said that Prime Minister Imran directed his cabinet not to issue any political statement on PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif’s health. 

Cabinet approves construction of Rs510b Dasu Dam from next month

She said that Prime Minister Imran Khan has already made it clear that no politics should be done on health issue of anybody. She said the government is providing best available medical facilities to Nawaz Sharif.

She said that Nawaz Sharif or his family have never submitted any application for medical treatment abroad.

Regarding Nawaz Sharif’s two-month bail approved by the Islamabad High Court in the Al-Azazia corruption reference, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said that the government will obey the court’s directions.

Sharing details of other issues discussed and decided during the meeting, she said the Federal Cabinet has approved construction of Rs510 billon Dasu Dam to be started next month. She said that the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) has already approved construction of the dam.

Dr Firdous said that the Ehsas undergraduate programme will be launched next month and the cabinet approved giving 50,000 scholarships in next four years.

She said that scholarships will be awarded on merit-cum-need basis and deserving students of 120 public sector universities will be eligible for the award.

She said that children hailing from a family with an income of less than 45,000 rupees will be eligible for the programme.

She said the cabinet also granted approval for construction of high-rise buildings in different cities of the country, including Karachi, Peshawar, and Lahore, after identifying the air-routes by the Civil Aviation Authority. 

Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said the cabinet approved resolution of all the pending issues with Russia under various Memorandums of Understanding.

She said the meeting also discussed people and investment friendly laws. She said the cabinet approved new board of directors of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited.

She said appointment of Chairman Evacuee Trust Board too got cabinet’s nod. Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the ETB to vacate state properties from illegal occupants and utilize them for public welfare. 

Answering a question about the PEMRA’s recent notification regarding some anchorpersons, Dr. Awan said the government is committed to empower institutions and it does not believe in interfering in their domain.

However, it was reliably learnt that the PEMRA notification was also discussed during the meeting after Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan brought into the notice of the Prime Minister the attitude of certain fellow cabinet members regarding Pemra’s decision. According to sources privy to the meeting, she informed the Prime Minister that reaction by her cabinet colleagues regarding the PEMRA notification was so harshly criticised on social media that it appeared as if some ministers were themselves part of the opposition. “Criticism by own ministers causes serious humiliation,” she complained which led to a brief altercation among some members.