Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani asserted on Sunday that the US was never given access to Shamsi airbase for carrying out drone attacks, insisting that Washington was given access to the base only for surveillance purposes by the previous government.
Addressing a press conference which he had “specifically called to clarify some issues of national importance”, Prime Minister Gilani said that his government has raised the matter of Washington’s control over the base at the highest level with the US government.
Commenting on the ongoing spat between the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the prime minister said that PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif’s “dream of mid-term elections being held in the country will never be fulfilled” as the political leadership is united on major issues. “It is time for the general elections not mid-term elections,” he said. “Nawaz Sharif better prepare for the next general elections,” he added.
Prime Minister Giani said his government has gotten three budgets approved and is planning for the fourth budget and will not let any party derail democracy. “Forces planning mischief must prepare for the general elections, they have no other choice,” he said.
The premier said that highs and lows are part of politics and the PPP will continue its policy of reconciliation as it is the ideology of its former chairman Benazir Bhutto. “Political matters keep changing on a daily basis but anything can be resolved through reconciliation,” he said.
Discussing the Muttahida Qaumi Moverment’s (MQM) decision to quit the coalition government, Prime Minister Gilani said the PPP will try once again to form coalition with the MQM. “It (MQM) has always supported the PPP, be it the 18th amendment, the 19th amendment or the NFC awards,” he added.
“No party can single-handedly solve Pakistan’s problems. Any future government will also be formed through coalitions because no single party would be able to make the government,” the prime minister said. He also stated that the PPP favours the formation of a Seraiki province while President Asif Ali Zardari has instructed that this policy be made a part of PPP manifesto.
Talking about the electricity crisis in the country, he said that electricity demand has increased due to a rise in the number of development projects. He claimed that 2,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity has been added to the national grid since the PPP government came into power. The prime minister vowed that an additional 2,000 MW of electricity will be added to the grid very soon.
He said that prices of petroleum have been raised due to a hike in global oil prices. He said that the increase in gas prices will not affect domestic users as they have been raised for the commercial sector to control the supply and demand of natural gas in the country. The prime minister said that 1,100 kilometre of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline has been constructed while he has given special instructions for the renovation and strengthening of dykes and embankments throughout the country. “We have been monitoring the flood situation closely in the country,” he added.
The prime minister also said that Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan have been improving and that Islamabad has raised the issue of cross-border attacks by the Afghan military and militants in
Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2011.