Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Monday claimed that all coalition partners craved for the formation of a new Saraiki province. Talking to a group of journalists from print media, the premier said he had talked to his coalition partners after President Asif Zardari’s announcement to carve out the Saraiki province in Punjab, adding that all of them assured him of support. He pointed out that Awami National Party (ANP) leader Asfandyar Wali Khan and Baloch leader Israrullah Zehri had backed it. He also said that lawmakers from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas had also assured the government of their support on the issue. The PM said that the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid had tried several times to introduce a resolution in the Punjab Assembly regarding the Saraiki province, but did not have the majority to do so. Gilani said that nothing was impossible in politics and the government would be able to create a consensus in parliament in this regard. He said that there was a consensus among the coalition partners to create the Saraiki province, but the government would like to take all political forces on board. To a question about the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) demand for early elections, the prime minister said that the government would first consult with the coalition partners, adding that if they were agreed then further discussion would be held with PML-N President Mian Nawaz Sharif. On Balochistan, Gilani said that law and order situation had been overshadowing all the efforts taken by the government through Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan Package to alleviate the grievances of the people of the deprived province. He said that the government would arrest former president Pervez Musharraf on his return for his involvement in the murder of Nawab Akbar Bugti. The PM defended the expansion of the cabinet, saying that a 60-member cabinet was in line with 11 percent of the total strength of parliament as recommended in the 18th Constitutional Amendment, which would be implemented from next general elections. He said that 60 members constituted 11 percent of 446-member parliament. Gilani said that the government was seriously considering for holding local bodies elections in the federal capital so that the city would be administered by a “mayor” as is being done in Bangladesh and other countries. “I have directed my colleagues to work on this and the president has already given his nod,” the PM said. Gilani said that the government wanted friendly relations with the US in line with the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security. The cabinet’s committee on defence would receive a presentation and subsequently a US team would be visiting Pakistan for holding discussions on terms of future engagement between the two war partners. He said that he had directed the economic team to prepare proposals to provide relief to the farmers and common people through programmes like the Benazir Income Support Programme.