Pakistan: Deadline for deporting Afghans to third country extended to Feb 29


ISLAMABAD; GEO TV reports: The federal cabinet has extended the deadline for the Afghan nationals, who will be deported to a country other than Afghanistan from Pakistan, to February 29, 2024.

The decision to extend the deadline from December 31 was taken by the cabinet meeting chaired by Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar in Islamabad, The News reported on Thursday.

Briefing media on the decision, while flanked by Caretaker Minister of Information Technology Dr Umar Saif and Caretaker Minister for National Health Services Dr Nadeem Jan in Islamabad, caretaker Minister for Information Murtaza Solangi said the interim government had cut the processing fee for the Afghans to $400 from $800.

The information minister apprised that the Afghan nationals would have to pay a 100-dollar fine a month for a maximum of eight months for staying after the deadline. He said the government wanted them to evacuate to another country as soon as possible or obtain the legal documents for staying in Pakistan.

He further said the federal cabinet had deferred a decision to jack up the prices of 262 medicines.

Murtaza Solangi said the meeting had ordered to review of the mechanism for setting medicines’ prices for a long-lasting solution for the matter.

During the meeting, PM Kakar said the government wanted progress and development of the pharmaceutical industry, but there would be no compromise on safeguarding people’s interest and ensuring the quality of drugs.

The minister said the prime minister also sought a briefing from the Ministry of Health in the presence of DRAP officials for discussion and review of the existing drug pricing policy.

Minister for Health Dr Nadeem Jan said in light of the ECC decision, the prices of 262 medicines were not being increased. “A lot of pressure is building up but the prices are not being increased,” he said.

He said there were observations that the review was not complete after discussion of stakeholders. The drug pricing policy should be reviewed which, he said, was not people-centric but profit- and manufacturer-centric.

“We should give a new drug policy that should be balanced to resolve the issue,” he said.

The minister said Pakistan’s first-ever National Space Policy was approved under which international companies will be allowed to provide communication and coordination services to consumers. Solangi further said the international companies would provide their services through low-orbit communication satellites.

“The policy will not only attract foreign investment but also save foreign exchange being spent on the cost of these services,” he said.

The minister said the policy would also help establish a space regulatory regime in Pakistan as per the international standards adding that funds had also been arranged for research and development in Suparco.

He further said it was consented to refer Dow Dental College Karachi, Narowal Medical College, Liaquat Institute of Medical Health Sciences, Thatta, and Khairpur Mir Medical College to the Pakistan Medical and Dental College for review and preliminary approval.

Solangi said the cabinet allowed an MoU between the Foreign Office and Gambia in the context of Pakistan’s Engage Africa policy.

Talking about the Indian Supreme Court’s verdict on Kashmir, Murtaza Solangi said the cabinet had rejected the unlawful verdict.

He said Jammu and Kashmir was an international dispute pending with the UN Security Council for the last seven decades. The Kashmir issue should be resolved according to the UN Security Council resolutions as per the will of people of Kashmir.

The minister said the so-called decision of the Indian Supreme Court will have no effect on the Kashmir dispute. He urged the international community to condemn the illegal acts of India to suppress the freedom of the people of Kashmir.

Solangi said the cabinet had also approved the decisions of the Cabinet Committee on Disposal of Legislative Cases on establishment of Cyber Crimes Investigation Agency and Telecom Tribunal.

Minister for Information Technology Dr Umar Saif said the federal cabinet had approved three policies for the IT sector. He said 5G technology would also be introduced shortly.

The minister said Pakistan’s first-ever National Space Policy under which private companies would be allowed to provide communication internet and coordination services to consumers was also approved.