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Federal Cabinet Meets

Islamabad, November 21, 2001.
The President, General Pervez Musharraf has said the position taken by
Pakistan in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11 in USA has
been vindicated as the international community now works on the
 formation of an interim government in Kabul representative of all ethnic groups to lay
the foundations of a broad-based multi-ethnic government in Afghanistan.
Pakistan, he said, has been advocating the unity of Afghanistan, formation
of a broad-based government there and a concurrent programme of
rehabilitation in that country of all which are now being pursued vigorously
by the international community. The President hoped that the efforts of the
international community, of which Pakistan was a part, and particularly the
efforts of the United Nations, shall bring peace, stability and progress to
Afghanistan with whom Pakistan has had fraternal bonds dating back to many centuries.
The President informed the Cabinet that he has been in close contact with
world leaders and has been exchanging views with them on the emerging
situation in Afghanistan. He said he has held telephonic discussions with
the President of China, Prime Minister Tony Blair and Secretary of state
Colin Powell.  He said he shall continue to be in contact with leaders of
the coalition countries as also with leaders of such friendly countries as
China, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Turkey.
Earlier, the President briefed the Cabinet on his recent visit to the
United Sates which also took him to France and the United Kingdom. The
President also referred to his meetings in Tehran and Istanbul with the
leadership of the fraternal countries of Iran and Turkey and said there was
commonality of views on all important issues.
The Foreign Minister and the Finance Minister also briefed the Cabinet
members on the foreign policy and economic issues, respectively. The Finance
Minister informed the Cabinet that major setback to manufacturing and
 export notwithstanding, the overall economic situation was set to improve
 in the months ahead as fiscal support and debt relief measures by donor
 countries start falling in place. The foreign exchange reserves stood at
an all time high of US$ 4.2 billion, he said, of which US$ 2.6 billion was
 in cash, the Finance Minister said. He also pointed to a 20 to 25 percent increase in
remittances through regular banking channels. Efforts, he said, were also
underway by Pakistani banks operating overseas to improve their services to
facilitate larger remittances by the Pakistani expatriates living overseas.

The Federal Cabinet today approved a proposal to increase the minimum
pension of workers from Rs.630 to Rs.700 per month under the Employees Old
Age Benefits Act 1976. The Government had earlier increased pensions from
Rs.425 to Rs.630 in January 2000 which had remained unchanged for nine years.
There will be thus an increase of nearly 75 percent in less than two years.
The present increase in old age pensions will be effective from November 1,
2001. The increase will be met out of the E.O.B.I. fund.
The Cabinet also approved to maintain the support price for the next wheat
crop at Rs.300/- per 40 kg and decided that the Provincial Governments and
PASSCO shall procure four million tones of wheat during the next harvesting
The Cabinet also decided to provide incentives including bank financing to
the private sector for construction of silos to increase the storage
facilities for wheat. It was decided that PASSCO should also embark upon a
massive programme of construction of new storages to enhance storage
facilities by at least half a million ton.
The Cabinet also directed that the Provincial Governments and PASSCO
 should make elaborate arrangements for procurement of wheat well in
advance so that benefits of support price could accrue to the small farmers as well.
The Cabinet approved amendments to the Unani, Ayurvedic and Homeopathic
Practitioners Act 1965 with a view to streamline the oriental forms of treatment
in the country. The amendment shall also improve the educational standard
of colleges imparting education/training in Unani, Homeopathic and Ayurvedic
system of medicines. It will streamline the functioning of practitioners
 under these systems of medicine.
The Cabinet approved ratification of an agreement on cooperation in Science
and Technology between the Government of Pakistan and Government of Syria.
The Cabinet also approved federalization of the Jalkhad-Chilas Road as
extended part of the National Highway N15. The Jalkhad-Chilas Section will
connect the two federal highways, N15 and N35, will provide a shorter route
for local and international traffic from China and Central Asian States and
will help tourism.
The Cabinet approved ratification of the memorandum of understanding
between Pakistan and Jordan for promoting cooperation in Science and
Technology. The memorandum was signed during the visit of the Chief
Executive to Jordan earlier this year.

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