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PMDA disbanded, newly elected Information Minster Marriyum Aurangzeb announces

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  • Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb announces disbanding Digital Media Wing.
  • Zero tolerance for baselss criticism of institutions, journalists, she says.
  • Bilawal to take oath soon; PM Shehbaz to address nation in a day or two, she adds.

ISLAMABAD: Newly elected Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb Tuesday announced disbanding the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) set up during the PTI government’s tenure.

“An attempt was being made to gag an already muzzled media. But now, whatever shape and form PMDA is working in, we have announced to disband it,” the minister — who took oath hours earlier — told journalists.

Aurangzeb said the coalition government would not allow the imposition of curbs on freedom of expression in the country as she termed the PMDA a “black law”.

She mentioned that the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had termed the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) Amendment Ordinance “unconstitutional” due to the efforts of journalists and PML-N as well.

“So now, we will review this PECA law and take all stakeholders on board in this regard. We will also identify the gaps which are there and were used to muzzle the media,” Aurangzeb added.


Important announcements

  • Disbanding of Pakistan Media Development Authority
  • Disbanding of Digital Media Wing
  • Works to soon be done on journalists’ protection bill
  • Zero tolerance for baseless criticism of institutions, journalists
  • More accessibility of information to journalists

The information minister said for the last four years, the Pakistani society experienced suffocation, may it be in the form of abusive language, targeting of politicians, black laws, or ordinances.

“I think we should now move towards a new beginning as a coalition government has been formed that represents entire Pakistan,” the information minister said.

‘Zero tolerance’

In response to a question, Aurangzeb said the government has gathered data on the bot Twitter accounts that were being operated to malign the institutions and run trends against them.

“This does not come under freedom of expression as these campaigns are being run through software. There is zero tolerance on such trends and campaigns,” the information minister said.

Aurangzeb warned the PTI that it could not protest outside journalists’ homes just because their government failed to deliver. “There will be zero tolerance regarding this and we have instructed the inspector general of Islamabad to make sure that culprits are published.”

No revenge; president should resign

Aurangzeb noted that the government would not take revenge on its political opponents, but whosoever has done something illegal while in office, action will be taken against them.

With regards to President Arif Alvi refusing to administer the oath to the federal cabinet and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Aurangzeb said the president should be aware of the fact that he is not a member of the PTI, but has a constitutional role.

“…if he cannot fulfil the oath he took while becoming president, then the best option for him is to resign,” the information minister told Alvi, who refused to administer oaths to the coalition government’s members, and in his absence, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani administered the oaths.

Bilawal to take oath; Shebaz to address nation

Aurangzeb also said confidently that PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari was going to London, but once he comes back, he would take his oath as the federal minister.

PML-N leader Khawaja Asif had confirmed a day earlier that Bilawal would become the next foreign minister, but the PPP chairman did not attend today’s oath-taking ceremony.

Apart from Bilawal, nine other federal and state ministers from PPP took oath today, including Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah, Syed Naveed Qamar, Sherry Rehman, Abdul Qadir Patel, Shazia Marri, Syed Murtaza Mahmud, Sajid Hussain Turi, Ehsan ur Rehman Mazari, and Abid Hussain Bhayo.

The newly elected information minister added that the prime minister would also address the nation in a day or two and would announce the government’s long and term goals.

Accountability crucial for govt

At the outset of her first press briefing after becoming the information ministry, Aurangzeb said during the previous government’s tenure, Pakistan’s media industry went through a dark phase, facing a financial crisis, the firing of journalists, muzzling of freedom of expression, censorship, and other problems that the journalists faced.

The journalists were shot and abducted during PTI’s tenure, she said. “…Absar AlamMatiullah Jan, Hamid Mir, and Asad Toor all faced troubles in the last four years, and I stand in solidarity with them,” the newly elected federal minister said.

She noted that accountability by the media was crucial for the government as it helps the rulers rectify themselves and serve the people better.

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government contests Imran Khan and Qureshi’s exoneration in the cipher case

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On Thursday, the federal government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court contesting the exoneration of former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and former Prime Minister Imran Khan in the well-known cipher case.

Citing procedural and jurisdictional issues, the Ministry of Interior has appealed the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) ruling.

In hearing the cipher case, the High Court allegedly overreached its power, arguing that judges cannot change laws where Parliament has not expressly passed legislation.

Despite receiving government-funded legal representation, the petition emphasized Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s lack of cooperation during the trial, submitting 65 separate motions and neglecting to cross-examine witnesses.

The petition contended that in order for a retrial to satisfy legal standards, the High Court should have ignored important evidence that was given during the trial. It requests that the appeals contesting the IHC’s June 3 acquittal be given a hearing date by the Supreme Court.

Case history

The cipher issue concerns a supposed diplomatic document that disappeared from Imran Khan’s custody. The cipher allegedly contained threats from the US to remove Khan from office, according to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Shah Mehmood Qureshi and several aides, including Asad Umar, are named in the First Information Report (FIR) submitted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in accordance with Section 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act.

The then-foreign secretary received a diplomatic cipher from Washington on March 7, 2022, according to the FIR. The lawsuit claims that by manipulating the data for their own benefit, Khan and Qureshi put the safety of the country at risk. It alleges that on March 28, 2022, Khan secretly met at his Bani Gala home and gave his Principal Secretary, Muhammad Azam Khan, instructions to change the content of the cipher to his advantage, jeopardizing national security.

The document asserts that Khan still has custody of the cipher, jeopardizing Pakistan’s encrypted messaging systems and possibly helping foreign forces, which would be detrimental to the nation. A complaint has been filed by the FIA’s Anti-Terrorism Wing against Khan, Qureshi, and other individuals for improper use of state secrets and unapproved possession of the cipher.

Acquittal by the Islamabad High Court

In the cipher case, on June 3, the IHC cleared Khan and Qureshi when Justice Aamir Farooq issued a succinct ruling in their favor. Their sentences were appealed in the case, which has since been a source of political and legal controversy, leading to their acquittal.

This acquittal and the ongoing legal and political struggles surrounding the cipher case are highlighted by the government’s subsequent move to contest it.

With potentially huge ramifications for the parties involved and the larger political scene, the Supreme Court’s decision over whether to hear the appeal will be keenly scrutinized.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi urges political stability in order to accelerate economic expansion.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the former prime minister, emphasized on Thursday how important political stability is to Pakistan’s economic development and how the nation cannot prosper without it.

His concern was that export growth had not progressed, and he emphasized that stability in the current climate is vital to draw investments and carry out the necessary reforms.

In his criticism of the tax system, Abbasi brought up the erratic nature of tax laws and the transient nature of the most recent tax slab implementation. Insisting that difficult choices are unavoidable for economic recovery, he emphasized the necessity of designing a tax system that is equitable and does not burden the people.

Furthermore, arguing that the effectiveness of organizations like the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is essential for economic governance and transparency, Abbasi urged for changes within these and other organizations.

Abbasi, in his discussion of more comprehensive fiscal plans, suggested that the National Finance Commission (NFC) award be reviewed again and that power distribution companies (DISCOs) be decentralized to the provinces.

In order to reduce inefficiencies and corruption at the provincial level, he recommended looking into ways to share the cost of defense spending and decentralize the management of energy resources.

In closing, Abbasi emphasized that Pakistan’s economic trajectory will stay stagnant unless comprehensive changes are implemented immediately. To move the nation towards sustainable progress, he urged policymakers to give stability and structural reforms first priority.

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Through in-app QR payments, Zindigi and SBP streamline transactions involving sacrificial animals.

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With its in-app QR code payment system based on Raast, Zindigi—powered by JS Bank—has elevated the convenience of cashless payments for the procurement of sacrificial animals to a whole new level for Eid ul Adha.

This program uses QR code payments to streamline transactions for sacrificed animals for the general public and traders. It is a component of the State Bank of Pakistan’s Raast quick payment service.

This feature enables users of Zindigi and users of any digital banking apps or wallets to safely and easily make payments at certain cattle markets throughout Pakistan using Zindigi QR. The consumer must scan the QR code of the livestock merchant and pay the transaction amount in order to complete the payment.

In order to further financial inclusion and digital innovation in Pakistan’s developing economy, Zindigi and the State Bank of Pakistan have partnered. Both organizations are committed to improving the efficiency and accessibility of financial services, especially on holidays such as Eid ul Adha, by utilizing the most recent developments in fintech.

One of the most important steps toward promoting financial inclusion and economic empowerment at the local level is the integration of livestock markets into the digital economy. Farmers and retailers may take charge of their financial operations and help realize the larger goal of an inclusive digital Pakistan by adopting digital payments.

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