LAHORE:Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Sunday said that Pakistan was a powerful country and fully capable of safeguarding its vital national interests.Addressing a press conference at the State Guest House here, the Prime Minister said that safeguarding national interest was of supreme importance for his government.He said that Pakistan wanted to maintain friendly relations with the United States (US) on the basis of mutual respect and mutual interest without compromising on each other’s national interests.Gilani said, “We have explained to the US government that if it is answerable to Congress, then we are equally accountable to the Parliament”.To a query, the Prime Minister said there was no question of raising fingers at Pakistan’s role in the fight against terrorism.Because of strategic position, Pakistan had to take up the role of a frontline state role in the fight against terror, he said and added that Pakistan’s intelligence agencies and the Central Intelligence Agency (of US) were working in close liaison with each other while both the countries had launched joint actions against high-level targets in the past.
Condemning the cross-border attack in Chitral, he said that the Foreign Office had protested to the Afghan government on the issue.Some elements did not want amicable relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan and were creating disturbance, he added.He said Pakistan was in the middle of the fight against terrorism and expressed the hope relations between the two neighbouring countries would strengthen in the near future.About Al-Qaeda links in the security forces, Gilani said Pakistan’s security agencies were immensely efficient. Terrorism and extremism were a global phenomenon as well as a global threat which had to be addressed jointly through capacity building of each other, he added.Responding to a question on the law and order situation in Karachi, he said that extremism and terrorism were major threats to the country and that the law and order situation in Karachi was a spill-over of the Afghan war.
He said that successful operation of the law enforcement agencies in FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas), Swat and Malakand had dispersed the terrorists who turned to soft targets like girls’ schools, shopping malls, public places and intelligence headquarters in order to cause collateral damage to life and property.The Prime Minister said the situation of Karachi was also a reaction to the killing of Osama Bin Laden in Abottabad operation.To another question, he did not rule the involvement of some foreign hands in Balochistan and Karachi incidents.When asked about any role for the Army in Karachi, the Prime Minister said police and Rangers were his priority. The civilian law enforcement agencies are a preference for all democratic governments while the Army also do not want to be controversial by involving in the Karachi situation, he added.
Gilani said he believed that a military action was not a permanent solution to the problems and he wanted adoption of 3 Ds (Dialogue, Development & Deterrence) policy in the resolution of issues. Removing deprivation of the people leaves no room for the use of force which should be used as a last resort only, he added.
When asked about the law and order situation in Lahore, the Prime Minister said that the overall situation was very good. However, he added that poverty, inflation, dearness, unemployment and illiteracy were the root causes of terrorism which could be eliminated through development.Regarding Latif Khosa’s emotionally-charged press conference on the abduction of Shahbaz Taseer, Gilani said the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was concerned about the incident. He added that the PPP had suffered a lot for democracy and rule of law in the country.
He said that the PPP workers were emotional today as they had lost Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, Salman Taseer, Minorities Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti and many other party leaders for the cause of country and the people and recently Shahbaz Taseer was abducted while the decision on Salman Taseer’s murder was still awaited.
Gilani said Punjab the remarks of Governor Latif Khosa expressed his emotions.The Prime Minister said Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif prior to the meeting of the Council of the Common Interest (CCI) in Islamabad, assured him of early development in the Shahbaz Taseer case.Replying to another query, he said the Federal Government was ready to provide all kinds of support to the provincial government in the case.About the Balochistan issue, the Prime Minister said the Baloch people were patriotic Pakistanis who wanted development in their province.
He said it was necessary to grant provincial autonomy as well as NFC (National Finance Commission) award to the provinces for bringing an end to the sense of deprivation among the people of Balochistan prevailing over a period of last 64 years.
Gilani said that the PPP government had the credit of granting autonomy to the provinces as well as the passage of NFC Award. He said the people of Balochistan should be given share in the royalty and jobs.Responding to alleged corruption in the Law Ministry, he said he had taken up the issue in the cabinet. Some departments had passed cases on to other department for fear of criticism which caused inordinate delay in certain cases, he added.About public reaction to corruption in India, the Prime Minister said that Manmohan Singh was a twice elected Prime Minister of that country and Indians were the best judge on the issue. It was people’s right if they demanded adoption of certain sections in a bill presented in the parliament as the parliament was sovereign, he added.Gilani said as per the dsire of the people, his government would soon present an accountability bill in the parliament.
Regarding unscheduled power outages in the country, Gilani said he had directed for scheduled loadshedding in the country so that people could adjust their life-styles accrdingly. The the problem arose when people faced unscheduled loadshedding, he added.He said an energy conference would be convened soon to be attended by chief ministers of four provinces.
The Prime Minister said he had constituted a committee comprising ministers of Water and Power and Petroleum, Governor State Bank and Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission which would submit its recommendations soon.Counting his government’s achievements, he said that 3000 MW power had been added to the national grid and the projects of the same magnitude were in the pipeline. He added that his government was committed to making the country self-sufficient in energy resources.
“We are working on nuclear, hydal, thermal, rental as well as renewable energy resources”, he elaborated.The Prime Minister further said since the Federal Government could not fulfill energy needs of the country single-handedly. The provincial governments would have to launch projects, he added.
To a query, he dispelled the impression that Punjab was being discriminated against vis-a-vis loadshedding schedule, which was needed to improve capacity.When asked about possible reforms in the Pakistan Railways, the Premier said restructuring of Railways was important to bring it out of the present chaos. A cabinet committee headed by Governor State Bank has been constituted to present its recommendation on the restructuring of Pakistan Railways, he added.About the creation of a new province, Gilani said that Southern Punjab had been a victim of neglect during the last 64 years and its people wished the grant of rights so that their deprivations could be removed. He said that he respected their wishes and emotions in this regard.
The Prime Minister said that the ‘PPP’s Manifesto committee’ had been tasked with presenting its recommendations on the creation of new provinces in the light of sentiments of civil society, media and other stake-holders, adding a decision on the creation of a new province would be taken after the committee presents its recommendations.
To another query, he said there were three parties including PPP, PML-N and PML-Q on the issue of creation of Seraiki province and the consenus of two would win the day.About his meeting with Senior Federal Minister Pervaiz Elahi prior to the press conference, the Prime Minister said that Ch Pervaiz Elahi was a senior minister in his cabinet as well as an important coalition partner. Mr Elahi briefed the premier on the performance of Utility Stores Corporation of Pakistan especially during Ramadan as well as important issues pertaining to coalition partners.Gilani said that he also shared his views with the Senior Minister.About the government’s initiatives for the flood affected people in the country, Gilani said that the government had decided in the meeting of Council for Common Interests (CCI) in Islamabad that Rs 40,000 to each affected family would be paid as part of Citizens Compensation Programme (CCP). Rs 20,000 had already been paid to the affected familiesthrough Watan Cards, he added.He said an amount of Rs 40,000 would be paid in future which would make the cumulative compensation amount to Rs 100,000.The Prime Minister said that the amount would be paid with the help of World Bank, donors and Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FDP), saying that Pakistan had faced losses of Rs 10 billion dollars in last year’s devastating floods while country like China, Britain, Japan and the United States provided financial as well as technical assistance to rebuild infrastructure in these parts.
On the question of controlling radicalisation in the country,the Prime Mininster said the government had undertaken various initiatives to control radicalisation.He said a conference was held in Swat while a seminar would shortly be held in Islamabad on the subject. He said in a recent meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) strategies were discussed to control radicalisation in the country.“I have directed the Ministry of Information to liaison with the media urging them not to present villains and heroes,” Gilani said.On the question of MFN status to Pakistan by India, the Prime Minister said that the dialogue process was in progress and the diplomats as well as the politicians of both the countries had visited each other.About his meeting with Indian counterpart on the sidelines of UN General Assembly session, the Prime Minister said that it could be possible on the sidelines of the General Assembly session or the SAARC conference.When asked about the government’s stance on Kashmir issue, he said his government firmly believed that all outstanding issues should be resolved through dialogue and added that all core issues including Kashmir was the top priority of his government.On the question of MQM Chief Altaf Hussain’s detention at Heathrow airport with reference to Dr Imran Farooq’s murder, he said Interior Minister Rehman Malik was constantly in touch with the stakeholders.To another question of tendering advice to Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Prime Minister Gilani said that he would willingly give advice to the chief minister if the latter sought so.
Asked to comment on criticism by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, he said that he would not repeat the words uttered by the Chief Minister.About the stopping cultural brain drain, the Prime Minister said that he had recently invited country’s intellectuals, writers, dramatists and the youth to Islamabad and assured them that they would be provided enough facilities in Pakistan so that they did not have to go abroad. – APP