April 2008

Vol 7 - No. 10
























South Asia: Pakistan | April 2008



Gilani Unveils Coalition Government Agenda


Curtains for NAB; Pemra ordinance; FCR to go; judges to be restored; wheat support price up; trade, student unions revived; minimum wage Rs 6,000; militants asked to surrender; Army to quit civil departments in two weeks; austerity drive launched

By Asim Yasin

ISLAMABAD: All black laws, including the Pemra Ordinance, promulgated after November 3, and Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) in Fata would be done away with, declared Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani here on Saturday.

Spelling out the agenda of his government, after getting an unprecedented unanimous vote of confidence from the National Assembly, the prime minister also set a two-week deadline for the Army to call back its officers from civil institutions.

The prime minister said, "war on terror is our own war". He urged extremists to surrender and come to the negotiating table. "The elimination of the menace of terrorism from the country is our utmost priority," he added.

Gilani also announced 40 per cent reduction in the budget of the Prime Ministerís House. He said the cabinet members would not use vehicles of more than 1600 cc and travel in economy plus class only.

He said no unnecessary lighting would be arranged on public buildings on festivities and no money would be spent on the renovation of government buildings and residences.

He said the NAB would cease to exist and cases would be heard by the judiciary. He said there would be no ban on trade and student unions.

He said concurrent list would be abolished in a year.

The prime minister also raised support price of wheat from Rs510 per 40 Kg to Rs625 per 40 kg.

He also announced formation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to alleviate the alienation of various segments of society.

Gilani promised to restore the deposed judges and ensure independence of the judiciary according to the Charter of Democracy and the Murree Declaration.

The prime minister said that the new government had a vision, determination, commitment and zeal to serve the nation with the help of Almighty Allah.

He said he government would do its utmost for the development, progress, prosperity of the country, for ensuring rule of law and promoting democracy.

He said the government stands by the people and it would continue to stand by them in the hour of miseries and hardships.

He announced an ambitious plan for rapid and sustainable development of the country and the people.

The prime minister said that the nation was facing grave challenges but terrorism and extremism were the major challenges that were threatening the national integrity.

Lauding the decision of the Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to withdraw Army officers from the civilian institutions, he hoped that it would boost the image of the armed forces. He said, however, those Army officers whose presence in these institutions was imperative would continue to work.

He said that every institution must work in its prescribed parameters and it was the people who had the right to govern the country.

He called for withdrawal of Army officers from the civil departments within two weeks.

Gilani said there was a need for coordinated reforms for the development of tribal areas. He said to overcome terrorist activities there the government would announce a special package for the socio-economic development of these areas.

He said the people were facing challenges of price hike, unemployment and poverty and the government was determined to resolve these issues on priority.

He said the government would take steps to provide home to homeless and education to each illiterate besides generating more and more employment opportunities for the people.

He said the government would not tolerate unjustified division of resources and take all measures to provide equal opportunities to the people for their progress and prosperity. "It is unfortunate that the country could not continue the journey of democracy smoothly that gave rise to all these problems. However, now the government with the support of all political forces would take concrete steps to make democracy flourish that is vital for our development and integrity," he added.

The prime minister turning to other issues said that people were facing great hardships due to price hike, non-availability of atta, electricity shortage that needed immediate attention but there was no forthwith solution of these problems. However, he said major steps would be taken to resolve these issues on priority and bring relief to the common man.

He said poverty was also a major problem being faced by the nation and the government was committed to taking concrete steps to eradicate it through generating more employment opportunities. He said that an employment commission would be set up to resolve this issue.

He also announced to establish literacy and health commission that would ensure provision of jobs to the educated youth at least for two years after passing exams.

He said in 50 per cent of villages jobs would be provided to at least one person of each poor family to improve their socio-economic condition.

Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani said that the government would ensure equal treatment to all the segments of the society and all parts of the country and would protect their rights.

He said they would leave no stone unturned for the stability, integrity, sovereignty and progress of the country, as they were the torchbearers of freedom and brightness.

But he said that strong institutions were the guarantee for ensuring the process of development and it was the obligation of all the political parties to work for strengthening these institutions for a stable Pakistan.

The prime minister said the country was facing acute power shortage that needed urgent measures to overcome it in the shortest possible time.

He said the country was facing 3330 MW shortfall of electricity that would further increase to 4000 MW in near future.

He said the situation demanded immediate relief but it was not possible. However, the government had decided to work on emergency basis to install new power plants. He hoped that new units would start generating 2200 MW electricity by the end of this year.

He said the government would also launch austerity campaign to save power and would save 500 MW electricity through it. He said that Pepco had been asked to provide ten million energy saver bulbs to the people on emergency basis.

Outlining the plans of his government for increasing the power generation in the country, he said 5,000 MW electricity would be generated through Thar coal that would be enhanced up to 20,000MW.

He said Wapda had been directed to prepare feasibility studies and drawings of major dams for quick start on these projects. "The government would also invite investment for Kaiti Bander power project to increase power supply.

On water sector, the prime minister said the government would pay attention to watercourse lining and construction of small dams on emergency basis to save water and generate power.

He announced to launch national saving scheme and said initially expenditures of the Prime Minister House were going to be slashed up to 40 per cent and he hoped that all other institutions would follow this step. He said the government had decided to say goodbye to the VIP culture.

He also announced to begin PM question hour in the National assembly during which he himself would answer the questions.

He said in order to ensure transparency and promote accountability media would be given approach to the activities of the Parliament and its committees and steps would be taken to live telecast the proceedings of the Parliament.

He said in order to provide residential facility to the common man the government would launch a programme to construct one million houses annually.

He said a five-marla scheme would be launched in rural areas besides flats and 80 meter houses would be built in the urban areas.

He said a policy would be introduced to regularize kachi abadies and steps would also be taken to provide better residential facility to the government employees and a house would be given to each employee on his or her retirement.

He said the government would also focus on the improvement of health and education services besides improving environment and would promote CNG buses in this regard.

He said that a Madrsa Welfare Authority would be set up to ensure equal syllabus in Madaris and ensure audit in these institutions.

He said provision of justice was the basic responsibility of the state and all possible measures would be taken for ensuring independence of judiciary.

He said the government would ensure rights of the federating units and ensure provincial autonomy given in the Constitution adding that strengthening of federating units was of vital importance for integrated national development process.

He said the PPP had already tendered apology from the people of Balochistan for highhandedness against them and would take all possible measures to redress their problems.

The prime minister said that agriculture is the backbone of the national economy and situation demanded revolutionary steps to improve this sector and enhance national produce and improve socio-economic condition of the growers. He said steps would also be taken to ensure frequent supply of wheat at normal prices and maintain adequate stocks. He said that the government would get tough with those involved in hoarding and smuggling.

He said that steps would also be taken for the provision of cheap agricultural inputs to the farmers besides launching crops insurance scheme.

The prime minister said that steps would be taken to curb the menace of corruption and introduce laws to ease out the people from pressures

He said labour laws would also be reviewed and these would make as per International Labour Organization (ILO). He also announced repeal of IRO 2002.

He said that cases of those government employees who were terminated during the past years would also be reviewed.

He said that minimum wage for the labourers would be fixed at Rs6,000 per month.

He said that minorities are integral part of society and they have equal rights, and the government would ensure their social, economic and religious rights and would give them representation in all walks of life.

He said that those public servants who had become disabled during their services would be eligible to get full benefits of retirement and announced to lift ten years service condition on them.

The prime minister said that they were beginning a new era of democracy and development and announced to take along all political forces including all APDM components. "The government will also take along the opposition in this new journey and will eliminate political victimization," he said.

Turning to foreign policy, the prime minister said Pakistan believed in the policy of live and let live with peace, coexistence and tranquility and intended to have better relationship with all the nations with dignity and honour on the basis of reciprocal equality. He said the government would further enhance its relations with the United States and the Europe. "We will promote brotherhood and peace with the neighboring countries," he maintained.

He assured the Kashmiri brethren that their sacrifices would not be got wasted and emphasized to accelerate the dialogue process to resolve the issue. "The CBMs will only be beneficial when the Kashmir issue is resolved according to the aspirations of the Kashmiri people and under the set international principles," he added.

The prime minister declared China as time-tested friend and said Pak-Chine friendship was deeper than the oceans and higher than the Himalayas and Pakistan would further strengthen its deep rooted ties with China.

On Afghanistan, the prime minister said that Pakistan wanted peaceful and developing Afghanistan and would make all out efforts to restore peace there as peaceful Afghanistan was in the interest of Pakistan.

He paid glowing tributes to the Quaid-i-Azam for his leadership who made unprecedented legal struggle for achieving independence.

He also paid glowing tributes to late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who embraced Shahdat for protection of the country and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto for sacrificing her life for the cause of democracy in the country. "All those who rendered great sacrifices for the country and democracy are the national heros," he added.

The prime minister thanked Almighty Allah who gave him opportunity to be elected and got unanimous vote of confidence in the sacred month of Miald-un-Nabi (SAW).

He also expressed gratitude to all the political leaders including Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Asif Ali Zardari, Mian Nawaz Sharif, Asfandyar Wali, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Altaf Hussain, Munir Orakzai, Pir of Pagara, minority members, independents and the opposition for extending full support to him in obtaining unanimous vote of confidence form the House.

He expressed his determination that he and his government would come up to the expectations of the nation and make Pakistan a true democratic and welfare state.

After the speech of the prime minister other prominent leaders from the political divide expressed their views. Madam speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza prorogued the NA session indefinitely.


[Source: The News]



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