ISLAMABAD: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said on Wednesday that the immunity enjoyed by President Asif Ali Zardari has been given by the Parliament, which alone has the right to withdraw it.
Talking to the media after the Federal Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, she said that the Prime Minister’s legal team was preparing a reply on the directive to write the letter to Swiss Courts and had already shared his views on the issue with the media in Lahore.
The minister said that the Prime Minister will act as per the Constitution and will never violate the Constitution on the issue.
To a question, she said that in a democratic process, cabinets were reshuffled and it was the prerogative of the Prime Minister to reshuffle his team whenever he considers right. However, she said that in the cabinet meeting no consultation was held on this issue.
To a query regarding the upcoming budget, she said that the government, in its fifth budget this May, will try to provide maximum relief to the common man.
Firdous said that the successful completion of Senate elections was a great achievement of the present democratic set up and that the fifth presidential address to the Joint Sitting of the Parliament on Saturday will also be a milestone.
‘Government has to pass price hike to consumers’
Responding to a question about prices of daily-use items and utilities prices she said that the people’s government was utilising national resources to provide relief to the people of Pakistan. However she said that when prices of petroleum products rise in the international market, the government has to pass on the burden to the consumers.
Dr Firdous said if the government caps the prices of petroleum products, it will increase the circular debt, and provision of subsidy will result in inflation which will add to financial problems.
She added that the federal government wants to provide relief to the masses and the Prime Minister had issued directions to the Finance Ministry in this regard but increase in prices of commodities at international level also affects Pakistan.
About ‘Mehrangate’ scandal, she said that the PPP was waiting for the superior judiciary’s verdict on the issue as names of several so-called clean politicians were cropping up in this scandal.
The minister said that the PPP leadership has been following the policy of reconciliation and it does not respond to opposition’s allegations. She said that there are several reports of corruption in the Punjab but the PPP does not believe in politics of victimisation and history will judge the performance of all governments.
She said Punjab government must promote the concept of good governance in the province, setting a role model for other provinces to follow.
Dr Firdous criticised several projects of the Punjab government like Sasti Roti, construction of overhead bridges and distribution of laptops.
About Pak-Iran gas pipe line project, she said that the issue was not discussed in the Cabinet meeting, but its timely completion was government’s top priority and it can divert funds from other projects to ensure its early completion.
About the next general elections, she said that it was the prerogative of PPP’s top leadership and the Prime Minister of Pakistan to chalk out a strategy in this regard and make a final decision.