ISLAMABAD: The government on Friday vowed to take all the stakeholders on board on trade relations with India, for which it is striving hard, a federal minister informed the Upper House of parliament.
Responding to the queries of senators in the Senate, Federal Minister for Textile Industry Abbas Khan Afridi told the House that support has been received from the local industry, which is in favour of giving non-discriminatory market access to India on reciprocal basis. “It would enable the local industry to procure cheap and competitive raw materials, and intermediate goods from India will lower their cost of doing business,” he said, and added that all the leading chambers of commerce, industries and trade association are positive regarding Pakistan-India trade normalisation process.
The minister said that some elements in different sectors, such as agriculture, automobile, synthetic yarn-based textile and pharmaceutical, have expressed apprehensions that will be addressed appropriately. To a question, he said that the different cases of corruption and misappropriation worth Rs 2.270 billion surfaced in the National Insurance Company Limited (NICL), of which Rs 2.25 billion have been recovered, while cases are underway for the recovery of the remaining amount.
The senators belonging to the opposition parties staged a token walkout from the House, saying privatisation of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is not being done in a transparent manner and according to the constitution. Members of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) also staged a token walkout from the House against non-issuance of passport and CNIC to their party leader, Altaf Hussain, who has been living in a self-imposed exile in London for the last several years.
State Minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar informed the Senate that only 0.5 percent of refusals to vaccinate the children were based on religious grounds. Responding to a joint adjournment motion of the opposition MPs, moved by Senator Rubina Khalid of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), about international travel restrictions on Pakistan by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the state minister said that the issue is being discussed with the authorities concerned.
Tarar said that the figures that flowed in from districts to provinces and then to the federal ministry put the success rate of the immunisation campaigns as high as 80 to 90 percent. “We could not believe our eyes,” she remarked.
According to the minister, Balochistan remains the least accessible province in terms of immunisation, with just 16% population immunised, followed by Sindh, with 29%. Punjab has the highest level of immunisation, at 68.5 %, while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is at 52.5%.
Karachi, Peshawar and Fata – particularly North Waziristan – are areas where the strain of the poliovirus is dangerous, the minister said while defending measures taken by the Punjab government for internal travel restrictions on people travelling from other provinces. She also informed the Senate that around one million vaccination cards have been printed by the federal government, which will be sent to the provinces. However, local documents which are required by the provincial governments will be valid till June 1, she added.
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