PM says opposition’s concern to be addressed

MULTAN: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said on Sunday that the government was confidently moving forward with reconciliation process and concerns of PML-N Quaid Mian Nawaz Sharif,if any, would be addressed.Talking to newsmen after inspecting work on new terminal of Multan Airport, he said, “We are satisfied with the talks and PML-N leader Ishaq Dar is also satisfied. However, if Mian Nawaz Sharif has any concern, we will discuss it with the opposition team and address it.”When asked about a recent statement of US Vice President Joe Biden, Gilani  said that the situation in Egypt and Tunisia could not be compared with that of  Pakistan. “Our institutions are working and democracy is functional.”The Prime Minister said that the national economy was under pressure but not in crisis. It was under pressure due to four factors, including terrorism, extremism, global recession, floods and electricity shortage.“These are the main reasons. However, despite passing through a difficult phase, Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves are at an unprecedented high level of US$ 17 billion, the stock exchange index that was oscillating between 5,000 to 6,500 points when we took over, is now touching 12,500 points, our exports have reached US$11 billion and may double by the end of this fiscal year, and foreign remittances are over US$ 10 billion,” the Prime Minister said.He said that the government’s prudent policies ensured food security in the country as growers were getting a good price for their produce. He said that better financial conditions of the farming community ensured food security and better returns helped growers play an active role in the  national economy.The Prime Minister urged the international community to honour the pledges they had made for the assistance of the flood-hit people. He also thanked the international community for providing the much needed help so far in the shape of tents, food, blankets, mobile hospitals and homes for the affected communities.Gilani said that according to the damage assessment report the floods had caused US $ 10 billion losses to Pakistan. It destroyed infrastructure, road links and bridges, and washed away standing crops and homes.

The Prime Minister said that the government was providing free seeds and fertilizers to the farmers to enable them cultivate wheat crop and stand on their own feet. In addition to the rehabilitation of infrastructure, the government also distributed Rs 20,000 each among the flood-hit people in a transparent manner through smart cards under a national strategy. These people would get Rs 80,000 more, which would help them rebuild their homes and move forward, he added.He said that the Pakistani nation has the resilience and courage to survive against odds. He pointed out that the 2005 earthquake was a regional catastrophe and people from all parts of the country had rallied to support the calamity-hit people in a big way. However, floods played havoc in all the four provinces besides Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK and the people donated Rs 6.5 billion in the Prime Minister’s relief Fund.He said that the government sensitized the international community on the flood havoc and the United Nations declared it a big catastrophe.
When asked about the killings in Lahore by a United States’ citizen, the Prime Minister said that he had already condemned the incident. However, he added that he could not comment on the matter because it was sub-judice and the Punjab Government was also conducting its inquiry.

He said he had discussed the matter with the Punjab Chief Minister  on phone.
Prime Minister Gilani said that the root causes should be addressed for the elimination of corruption. He said that one should not be titled as corrupt on mere allegations.
He said, it was the dividend of democracy that ministers were being questioned by the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA), which was not possible during dictatorial regimes. He expressed concerns that the leaders, who were the companions of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and signatory to the Pakistan Resolution, were declared disqualified on mere allegations of corruption under ABDO law while the governments of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif were ousted on similar allegations.He said that Musharraf had taken over in a similar way and promised to eliminate corruption.He said that the government had restored the Constitution through 18th and 19th amendments and was committed to strengthen the institutions. He added that strong institutions could at least reduce corruption, if not eliminate it.He said that strengthening of the institutions was an agenda of the government. With an effective Public Accounts Committee (PAC), independent judiciary and media, corruption could be checked.

He added that negotiations were underway on the new accountability law.To a question regarding the statement of Mian Nawaz Sharif on the killing of former Governor Salman Taseer, Gilani said that Nawaz Sharif might have meant that the case should not be given a political colour.Gilani said that government  had adopted a two-pronged strategy with a view to improving the economy and creating  job opportunities .“ We are fighting against terrorism and extremism and trying to create a conducive environment for attracting  foreign investment and creating better economic opportunities for the people,” he said.
“ We  are fighting on both fronts” and trying to deal with the problem of unemployment”.
He said that Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) was entirely a political programme that had been recognised at the international level. It was not meant to gain political advantage but to extend a helping hand to all the poor, irrespective of their political affiliations .He said a  poverty survey is being conducted  to help poor families  on the basis of database which was under preparation.He said that this was the first government to have consulted all the political forces  on all major issues and did not resort to   victimization.When asked about Thar coal reserves, the Prime Minister said that it had been ignored   during the last 63 years.  It was the PPP-led coalition government that examined the issue  and decided  it was a provincial matter.Thar Coal Authority had been set up, foreign biddings were being received and  now the matter was moving ahead for the first time.Earlier, during a briefing on the new terminal building of Multan airport, the Prime Minister was informed that it would cost Rs 3.17 billion and  completed on July 26, 2012 – APP