Text of speech of Prime Minister Gilani on occasion of 65th Independence Day

ISLAMABAD: Following is the text of speech of Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani at a flag-hoisting ceremony here at Convention Centre on occasion of 65th Independence Day:

“My brothers and sisters
Dear countrymen
Asalam-o-Alaikum
Today is the Independence Day of our dear homeland, Pakistan.  I congratulate the entire nation and overseas Pakistanis on this auspicious occasion from the core of my heart. First of all, I pay my rich homage to Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founding father of the nation under whose inspiring leadership, statesmanship and wisdom, the first ideological state of the world came into being through a democratic struggle.I would also pay tribute to the leaders and workers of Pakistan Movement who were at the forefront of the struggle with their Quaid. The establishment of Pakistan is the best example of democratic struggle. This reference is very authentic even today.  The solution of all problems in the country lies in democracy.

My dear countrymen
I would like to congratulate the entire nation in general and the people of FATA in particular on promulgation of political reforms in FATA. Two days ago, amended FCR was promulgated and Political Parties Order 2002 was extended to the FATA region.  Resultantly, all political parties would now be able to launch political activities there. I have a firm belief that this decision of the government would usher in a new era of progress and prosperity and further empower the people.

I also want to felicitate the nation on yet another success, which we achieved by sending our satellite in the space. Pakistan has joined a privileged club of the countries of Space Age. This satellite has been indigenously manufactured by SUPARCO. I also congratulate all the scientists of this institute on this great achievement. This satellite would be beneficial for TV broadcast and also help meet other satellite needs.

Our people are democratic in their conduct and attitude. We believe that it is important to respect the provincial rights at the federal level and running the affairs with provinces through consultation and mutual understanding is the foremost priority of the democratic government. It is under this spirit that provincial autonomy has been granted to the federating units through 18th Constitutional Amendment.Prior to this, the Federation enhanced the financial resources of the provinces through the 7th National Finance Commission Award after a decade, which constitutes a major success of this democratic government.

The democratic government also gave back powers, rights and identity to the regions that were denied their rights and powers in the past. Today Gilgit-Baltistan enjoys domestic autonomy.The educational department was devolved to the provinces in accordance with the 18th Amendment but this important area will not be ignored at the federal level. A National Educational Conference will soon be held with the concurrence of the provinces in which all decisions will be made collectively with the provinces so that educational harmony takes place in the country.The democratic government has undertaken various steps to empower women, which include fixation of quota in the legislatures and appointment of a woman ombudsperson. The enactment to stop harassment of women at the workplace would give them more confidence and independence to discharge their duties efficiently without any fear.

I am happy to know that the number of women has increased in the area of higher education and they are taking active part in the development of the nation.We are utilizing all available resources for the welfare of our succeeding generations. We are particularly focusing on encouraging the children who are physically challenged. It is a matter of immense pleasure that special children of our country not only won the Cricket World Cup but also bagged 56 gold medals in Special Olympics 2011 held at Athens in which thousands of sportsmen from 180 countries participated. These children promoted soft image of Pakistan and made their countrymen proud.

These children are worthy of our pride. Pakistan has ratified the United Nations’ Convention regarding the rights of special people. Effective course of action will be worked out to implement this Convention. By grace of God, rehabilitation of the special people and protection of their rights at the community level will be ensured.Our government is also taking important steps to protect minorities and their rights. In this regard, we are following the Quaid’s vision as beacon of light which he enunciated during his address to the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947. The Quaid had said that the minorities in Pakistan would enjoy complete religious and social freedom and they would have equal rights as citizens of Pakistan. Our government fixed the 5% quota for minorities in the government jobs so that they could play their active role in the national development.

Pakistan is confronted with scourge of terrorism and the entire nation is united to tackle this menace. All political leaders and people are with the government in the war on terrorism.  Personnel of the armed forces, police, para-military forces and other law enforcement agencies are playing their exemplary role along with civil society and administration to eliminate terrorism from our midst. I, on behalf of the entire nation, pay rich tribute to those officers and soldiers who laid down their lives in the line of duty. By the grace of God, we will not rest until we eliminate this menace of terrorism. The success achieved by our armed forces in Swat fostered great confidence among the people of Pakistan.

The world saw that 3 million internally displaced were rehabilitated within a short span of time for the first time in history. Per person, 25 thousand rupees were paid to the displaced people which totals well over 8.5 billion rupees. The facilities of food, clean water and health were provided in the relief camps. I pay tribute to the political leadership, welfare organizations and the government of KPK for this. After the establishment of peace in Malakand and Swat, the security forces are working hard to restore peace in South Waziristan in complete harmony.The valiant armed forces of Pakistan stand by people of Pakistan in every hour of trial and tribulation. The way our soldiers rescued those trapped in the flood-waters last year at the risk of their own lives deserves our national appreciation.

My dear countrymen
Terrorism and unprecedented floods caused a severe damage to our economy. We have had to incur a staggering loss of 65 billion US dollars as a result of incidents of terrorism. We inherited the energy crisis. No plan of adding even a single megawatt of power to the national grid was in place in the dictatorial regime in the past, which led to the worst energy crisis. We are trying our best to resolve this issue on urgent basis. People would soon see that they would get rid of the unscheduled load-shedding. Work continues on Munda and Bhasha dams. The decision to provide necessary funds has been taken for the Thar Coal Project.

Despite unfavourable conditions, 3000 megawatt of power has been added to the national grid during last three years. A committee headed by the federal minister for finance has been constituted which would suggest ways and means on emergent basis to overcome energy crisis.We are trying to formulate a strategy along with provinces in order to reduce dearness and hike. A subsidy of Rs. 2 billion has been provided at utility stores in the holy month of Ramadan so that people may have necessities of life on reduced prices.

Financial assistance is being provided to 6 million families through Benazir Income Support Programme.The workers are being made shareholders through Benazir Stock Option Scheme.Internship program has been initiated for the jobless youth.A raise of 15% to 20% has been given to the pensioners.Substantial raise has been given in the salaries of thegovernment employees, armed forces and the judiciary.Contract employees have been regularized.The employees who were sacked in 1997 have been reinstated.  In order to improve the economy of the country, we had to take some difficult decisions on suggestions of economic experts. These decisions produced good results and people appreciated our decisions.

The flow of remittances from the Pakistani expatriate community is very encouraging. They are our precious asset. Our foreign reserves have reached $ 18 billion, which is all-time high in the history.Allah Almighty be thanked that parliament is about to complete four years. The political leadership is agreed to the fact that we will surely succeed in solidifying democracy and it is in democracy that solution of our problems lies.The role of religious scholars and Mashaikh has always been important in the mental and intellectual training of our society.  Their teachings are beacon of light for us. I will soon hold a meeting with the religious scholars and Mashaikh and seek guidance from them. This is the country of all of us and we all have to think and act to make it better than before. We do not need to see what our country gave us rather what we gave to the country.

My countrymen
The government is pursuing the foreign policy based on respect, understanding and peaceful coexistence. We want to promote our relations with the world on the basis of equality and mutual well being.Our historic relations with China are of huge importance and our friendship with China is an important pillar of our foreign policy. “Pakistan-China friendship is higher than Himalaya and deeper than oceans in real terms.”Our relationship of brotherhood with brotherly country, Saudi Arabia, will always stay intact. In my recent visit to the Kingdom, Saudi King Abdullah said that the relation between our two peoples is much more than that of friends and brothers. We are developing brotherly ties with all Islamic countries. The government and the people of Turkey have deep respect for people of Pakistan, which they have demonstrated many a time.

We have historic and geographical bonds with Iran. The implementation on gas pipeline project with Iran would start soon.  The restoration of peace in Afghanistan is our desire. We want to see Afghanistan as prosperous, sovereign and independent country.India is our important neighbour. We want that both countries should find a negotiated resolution of their pending issues so that the peoples of both countries could get rid of poverty, ignorance, and backwardness.The relations with the United States are extremely important in Pakistan’s foreign policy. We are always ready to extend our cooperation to the friends but are not ready to accept anyone’s supremacy.  The friendly relations with the UK and all countries of the European Union are being further promoted and efforts are afoot to have access to the American and the European markets. We have achieved noticeable success in this regard.

No one can deny the fact that Kashmir is a jugular vein of Pakistan. The international community has accepted the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination. We would continue to provide political, diplomatic and moral support to our Kashmiri brothers.Pakistan’s foreign relations are instrumental in national integrity and honour. We respect the integrity and sovereignty of other countries and expect that they also respect Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We want to remind the world that we are a peace-loving nation. Allegations of extremism and terrorism against us are ill-founded, because we are ourselves victim to these scourges.Karachi, which is the country’s financial hub and lifeline, has been a target of terrorists for some time. The national political leadership is making strenuous efforts for the solution of this problem. We are taking all stakeholders on board and I am sure with collective wisdom, we would be able to find a permanent solution to this problem. A parliamentary committee is being established in this regard.

The Speaker of the National Assembly would soon declare it so that it could do fact-finding in Karachi.The democratic government launched Aagaz-e-Haqooq Balochistan Initiative to remove the sense of deprivation among the people in Balochistan. This initiative is under implementation at various phases. Relaxation in age and requisite qualification is being given to the youth of Balochistan to provide them jobs. The Munda border has been opened to facilitate transportation. All such political workers have been released who were not required under any other charge.

Manifest changes have been made in constitutional, political, administrative and economic matters in the light of 39 recommendations of Balochistan package. The progress on these steps is quite encouraging. The gas pipeline project with Iran would have positive impact on the economy of the province as well as on well being of the Baloch people.We are in contact with all leaders of Balochistan. It is both our desire and effort that we formulate a consensus strategy in consultation with these leaders. I am ready to go to all Baloch leaders because we want to include them in the mainstream. A meeting of the federal cabinet was held in Quetta a few days ago. I have instructed that one minister must visit Balochistan every week.

My dear countrymen
Independence of media is part of our manifesto because we believe media and democracy are integral to each other. We want that our electronic and print media should work in a free environment.  Our government is a media-friendly government. I have recently announced Rs. 200 million for the Endowment Fund for the welfare of journalists throughout the country. We are of the view that constructive criticism by media plays important role in making the government improve its performance.Our government is busy in strengthening the state institutions. Individuals come and go but institutions stay. It is important that every institution should operate within its ambit defined by the Constitution. We believe in supremacy of parliament and independence of judiciary. We have our full belief in division of constitutional powers of democratic institutions because:

Democracy without rule of law degenerates into a mob rule.  Our government respects the decisions of judiciary and would continue to do so in future too.I have launched an initiative “Prime Minister’s in Dialogue with the Nation”. We received many workable suggestions from intellectuals, experts, educationists and people belonging to various walks of life, which will be implemented. Our government wants to promote literature, poetry, painting, and music. Federal Government’s Artist Fund has been established with Rs. 200 million.  I have instructed the cabinet division to give representation to writers and artists in a committee to be constituted in this regard.Dialogue with the nation is a matter of importance for me.

Four sittings have taken place in this regard. In these meetings, I spent most of my time listening to the views of participants. Some decisions were made afterwards, which I present here: ú        The proposal to establish first National Book Museum in Islamabad is under consideration.  ú        The countries where posts of cultural attaches are laying vacant, cultural attaches will soon be appointed there.  ú        Writers, artists and poets will be part of delegation during my foreign visits abroad.  ú        Directions have been issued to establish film studio and film laboratory on fast-track basis in Islamabad.  ú        Directions have also been given to establish a cinema house in Islamabad.

Although the ministries of sports and culture have been devolved to the provinces, these departments would not be ignored at the federal level. Pakistani sportsmen have worked wonders in the past. Pakistani women are also achieving successes. We have to do a lot for the encouragement of these sportsmen and sportswomen. The conduct of sports festival at federal and provincial levels will be a good development.My dialogue also continues with lawyers in addition to intellectuals and writers.

The suggestions gleaned from various sessions of dialogue with different strata of nation and decisions so taken will surely be implemented. The dialogue would continue.I have a belief that positive trend in our thought and attitude will result in our collective betterment.
I will surely like to remind that guarantee of peace, prosperity, tolerance and brotherhood lies in democracy.I want to end with the verse of eminent poet Ahmad Nadeem Qasimi:
“Zinda hi Pakistan tou hum sub Zinda hain
Jab tuk suraj rukhshinda, taray taabinda hain”  – APP