MULTAN: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Sunday rejected Opposition’s call for mid-term polls and said it was time for local government elections in the country.Talking to newsmen here, he said, “the government has got passed its fourth budget and will request the PML-N leadership to prepare for the next elections as the time for mid-term polls is over”. He said the Opposition was not giving a tough time to the government as the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) had the support of people.The Prime Minister said Shaheed Benazir Bhutto had given the vision of politics of reconciliation, foreseeing that in future only coalition governments would be formed and that no single party would be in a position to take majority of seats in the Parliament. He said from day one, he believed in the politics of reconciliation, which brought about benefits as the government succeeded in unanimous passing of 18th and 19th Constitutional Amendments and approval of 7th National Finance Commission (NFC) Award.
Prime Minister Gilani said he was pleased that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) accepted their viewpoint regarding reconciliation politics by stating that it was ready to talk to the MQM (Muttahida Qaumi Movement). “Without reconciliation, politics can not succeed in the country. We will continue our politics of reconciliation,” he added. To a question, the Prime Minister clarified that the government did not allow use of Pakistan’s airbases to the United States for drone attacks. The previous government had allowed use of airbases for surveillance purposes only, he added.
He said the government had taken up the issue of incursions from Afghans inside Pakistan’s territory and Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and the Foreign Secretary visited Kabul to discuss the issue.
The Pakistan government protested over border violations and took up the matter with the Afghan government at diplomatic level, he said and added, “Our understanding with the Afghan government has improved and we are making them realize the sensitivity of the situation.”
To another question, Gilani said the MQM remained an important ally of the PPP and it supported the government on all important national issues, including 18th and 19th Constitutional Amendments and NFC Award.
As member of the Implementation Commission on Constitutional Reforms, Dr Farooq Sattar worked with Senator Raza Rabbani and was present at the meeting in which the Commission gave a report to the Federal Cabinet, he added.
The Prime Minister said Multan would get all facilities being accorded to a big city. He said all the political parties were united on the national issues. He said the government had to face the most difficult challenges and the the restoration of Constitution was not an easy task. “The credit goes to PPP government that it restored the Constitution of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to its original form”, he added. He said in the past, the PPP never talked of Seraiki province but as more people were raising demand for the new province, therefore President Asif Ali Zardari formed a committee of the party to look into the issue.
He said the PPP never beleived in hollow slogans and would implement this demand of the people. The Prime Minister said billions of rupees were spent on electrification of villages which resulted in more demand, and thus power shortage in the country. The government is working on short, medium and long term projects of three to ten years to meet energy demand, he said and added 2000 megawatts had been added to the national grid and 2000 megawatts more would be added to the system.
He said Thar Coal Project, Diamer Bhasha Dam, TAPI and joint gas and electricity projects with Iran were in pipeline to overcome energy shortage. The people understand these are not mere promises as the government will have to go for elections, he added. Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani referred to global recession, war on terror, power shortages and severe floods as issues which undermined the government’s efforts to resolve people’s issues. He said electricity tariff was raised due to increase in petroleum prices in the international market. “Commercial consumers should pay more for energy while we are looking for ways to provide relief to the domestic consumers,” he added.
The Prime Minister said the provincial governments should hold local government elections. He said the opposition should not run away from the local elections, and shun its demand for mid-term polls. The PPP showed that it had the support of people by winning polls in Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir and bye-elections, he added. “I support local governments and their elections as I have emerged from grass-roots politics,” he said. To a question on military operation in North Waziristan, the Prime Minister said, “We will not take action on the demand of anybody. Our strategy will be in the best interest of the country. Action will only be taken if it is in the interest of the country and on this issue military and civilian leadership are on the same page.” The Prime Minister said it was unprecedented in the history of the world that after military operations, his government sent home 2.5 million internally displaced persons of Malakand and Swat in 90 days and provided them financial assistance through smart cards in a transparent manner.
About 3.5 million Afghan refugees are still in Pakistan and the world has forgotten about them, he added. He said his relations with the PML-N leadership were according to the best parliamentary practices and norms of democracy. The Prime Minister said he chaired a meeting of Chief Secretaries, Federal Flood Commission, Ministry of Water and Power, Met Department, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and others to review the preparations to tackle floods this year.
The administration has strengthened the embankments and he has directed the army and civil authorities to remain vigilant and make preparations at provincial, district and union council levels to counter any natural calamity, he added. He assured of development funds for Multan and directed the administration to efficiently complete the development projects in the region and facilitate flights from Multan to other destinations. To a question, the Prime Minister said nothing illegal was done in case of his father-in-law Pir Israr Hussain Shah as court twice decided in his favour in a land case in Rahim Yar Khan. – APP