LAHORE: “I have four priorities for the upcoming budget,” said Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, listing them down as electricity, employment, no new taxes and relief to the agriculture sector.
“We will ensure that relief is provided to the agriculture sector and also to other sectors through the Benazir Income Support Program [BISP],” said Gilani while speaking to the media.
The premier also boasted that his government was the first democratic government of the country to be presenting the fifth budget.
“This will be unprecedented in the history of Pakistan… We are not concerned with those who are criticising us.”
To deal with the energy crisis, Gilani announced that an emergency cell was formed during the special cabinet meeting which will “only and only” deal with electricity.
The special cabinet committee will consist of the finance minister, minister for water and power, petroleum minister, deputy chairman planning commission, governor State Bank and information minister, said Gilani.
“Meetings will be held every day. The information minister will be present there to give a briefing on the shortage of electricity. I want to assure you that we won’t leave any option in dealing with the issue,” he added.
The prime minister also said that around 3,600 megawatt (MW) electricity has been added to the national grid and the import of 1,000MW from Iran and 500MW from India is also in the pipeline. He added that the government is also looking forward to working on Thar coal, Diamer-Basha, Mangla and several other dams as well as hydel projects.
Accompanied by Pakistan Muslim League – Quaid (PML-Q) chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Gilani said that his government agrees with Hussain’s formula to deal with the crisis.
Senior Federal Minister Pervaiz Elahi, also present at the media briefing, said that the issue of electricity is not an issue for one party only, but is rather a nationwide issue.
The prime minister maintained that the Defence Cabinet Committee (DCC) discussed the issue of reopening Nato supplies in light of the recommendations presented by the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS). “We have not taken any final decision yet.”
“The president was invited to the Chicago summit and it was unconditional. The DCC, as well as the cabinet, welcomed the invitation, and endorsed that the president represents Pakistan in the summit.”
Ali Musa Gilani
When asked about his son’s involvement in the ephedrine case, Gilani said that his son, Ali Musa Gilani, was being accused because he is in politics. “Your hands will be black if you work with coal.”
He added that his son will face the courts to clear the allegations and they don’t need to be apologetic about it.
Gilani questioned how the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) can hold a long march against the government when the party itself is a part of the government. “They can’t hold a long march, they won’t hold it either. There is no dictator whom they will protest against.”
He further stated that if the PML-N wants to protest against the government, they should resign from their posts and join the opposition. “It is rebellious if the government itself protests against the government.”
He added that the government cannot be removed in a non-democratic way. “I can only be removed through a vote of no-confidence and the president can be removed through impeachment… If anyone is courageous enough then he should use this option.”
“The country suffers when governments are removed through conspiracies.”
“My legal team will decide about the appeal,” Gilani told reporters regarding the appeal he will file against the Supreme Court’s verdict which indicted him of contempt of court.
He added that the court had never stated that he was disqualified from his post.
“I did not commit any moral crime or any financial crime. I only followed the interpretation of the Constitution that was sent to me. I followed the Constitution – you can think it is a crime, but I don’t think so.”
Gilani added, “I will remain the prime minister till parliament allows.”