KARACHI: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, said that his government sided with the aspirations of the people when it referred to the parliament to decide on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) supply routes and evacuation of Shamsi base.
“Our 24 soldiers were martyred and we were angry as the entire nation was angry. We interpreted the aspirations of people of Pakistan and stopped NATO supplies. We did not use non-traditional method, but we referred the matter to the Parliamentary Committee on National Security that we wanted to have new terms of engagements with ISAF, NATO and United States which should be based on mutual respect and mutual interest and at equal terms,” he said
His comments come on a day when the US secretary of defence Leon Panetta said that the US was growing thin on patience regarding reopening supply lines, the al Qaeda and action against the Haqqani network.
Talking to media at the inauguration of the Pakistan gems and jewelry exhibition‚ Gilani said the matter was referred to Parliamentary Committee on National Security to draft new terms of engagement with the United States.
He said the government would not take any action which was against the national interest. “We will take those measures which are in the national interest, based on mutual respect and equality.”
Addressing a question about law and order, especially in the financial hub of Karachi, Gilani said that security was a provincial subject and that he respected the mandate of the province. However, if needed, the federal government could provide the services of any law enforcing agency on the request of provincial government.
About the law and order situation in Karachi‚ he said with the cooperation of the political parties and provincial government‚ the situation could be controlled. Gilani discussed Karachi situation with Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad and Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and assured them full support of the federal government.
Energy challenge accepted
The Prime Minister was confronted with the question of a crippling energy crisis which had crippled the industry, and had brought the opposition out on to the streets against him.
“We have initiated so many projects for overcoming energy shortages in the country with the help of short-term, mid-term and long-term programmes,” he boasted. He also swiped at his detractors, “it is not possible to overcome energy crisis in three years as claimed by the opposition.”
Gilani said that his government has added 3,700 megawatt of electricity to the national grid. “My government has started work on Thar Coal Project for the first time to generate electricity. We have initiated work on Diamer- Bhasha Dam, began Neelam- Jhelum raising project, we are negotiating with Iran on gas and electricity supply projects, working on TAPI gas pipeline, import of electricity from Central Asian States and wind and solar projects,” he said.
The Prime Minister was critical of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for stopping a run-of-the-river programme for generating electricity, initiated by former chief minister Chaudhry Pervez Elahi. He added that Shahbaz, despite all his protestations against loadshedding, had never added a single megawatt to the national grid in his four years as chief minister.
“We are a responsible government. We have taken the ownership and accepted the challenge and will resolve this issue” he vowed.
CJ son case has nothing to do with government
Replying to a question, Gilani said his government restored Chief Justice, Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
“We have given sacrifices for the restoration of Chief Justice and went to jails for him and held long marches. When we were facing jails, their (present) supporters were living outside Pakistan. We cannot be part of any conspiracy and we cannot conspire against democracy.” He added that the matter is sub-judice and that he cannot comment further on this matter apart from the fact that the government has nothing to do with the case.
Responding to another query, the prime minister said that Pakistan has attained food security and reaped bumper crops this year.
“We were importing wheat when we came to power, but now we are exporting wheat. We are exporting sugar due to surplus. Similarly, we have bumper rice crop and harvested an all time high cotton crop”.
Budget best under circumstances
Replying to a question about the agitation of the opposition, he said that some people could not take the government hostage which enjoys two-third majority in the National Assembly as well as in the Senate.
The prime minister said that they would not allow conspiracy against democracy and the institutions. Gilani said that he has advised his party MPAs in Punjab Assembly to behave properly in the house during the presentation of provincial budget on Friday and show discipline and follow democratic norms. The PPP, he said, did not want to create a scene.
Replying to a question about the federal budget, he said there could not be a better budget under the prevailing circumstances. He said the government has raised salaries of its employees in every budget.
Responding to a question, he said the government has provided jobs to the people as envisaged in the party’s manifesto according to the vision of Benazir Bhutto. The government has also regularised contractual employees in the country.
Referring to the holding of general elections, he said these would be “on time” and added that local bodies elections was a provincial matter and the federal government did not want to encroach on their mandate.