Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on Friday reiterated the importance of democracy for a stable and prosperous Pakistan, assuring the government’s resolve to hold fair, free and impartial elections.
Speaking at a ceremony hosted by the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), Premier Ashraf said that only a democratic government could provide strength to all state institutions.
In words that were apparently directed at the judiciary, he said that “the situation in the country can only be improved if the parliament and democracy are strengthened and there are no threats to the elected representatives of the people.”
He remarked that the people’s court [their will and voice] would distinguish between right and wrong and this would be done through their votes, not by ‘unconstitutional ways’. “We are not against any one and we will go to the court of the masses to seek a fresh mandate.” The prime minister reiterated that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) would take all necessary measures to ensure that the next general elections were free and fair, as it believed in the power of the masses and always came to power through the power of votes.
“Free and fair elections is our government’s commitment for which we are taking all possible steps and the appointment of a unanimously chosen Chief Election Commissioner proves our intent and sincerity in this regard,” Ashraf remarked.
Praising BISP’s role
Later, he distributed Waseela-e-Rozgar certificates, life insurance certificates and the Benazir Debt Card among a select group of people.
Lauding the BISP, the premier said it had set a precedent for the entire world, as a number of countries had approached its officials to replicate similar projects in their countries, recognising the success of the programme in Pakistan. He said the BISP had proved itself as a mode of fulfilling the promise of God of providing food and basic needs to the deserving and those living below the poverty line.
He hoped that the BISP would continue to operate successfully in the future, as many such welfare programmes were initiated in the past by various governments, but due to several reasons, they subsequently failed.
Presiding over an important meeting on the Balochistan crisis prior to his arrival at the ceremony, the premier said that he wanted to convey a message to the Baloch from the BISP forum that resolving the province’s crisis was a top priority of his government. Ashraf claimed that more than 50% of Baloch were getting benefits from BISP and similarly, over 1 million people in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas have benefited from the programme. He added that after the completion of a poverty survey in September 2012, the number of beneficiaries will be increased. Ashraf also stated that a new programme of providing education to over 3 million students will be started by the BISP, in collaboration with Britain and other countries.
He proudly stated that more than 6 million families have been provided cash grants, insurance, Waseela-e-Sehhat, education and other basic needs of life by the programme.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2012.
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