ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani has said the government is committed to institutionalize the democracy and revive democratic values in order to ensure the country’s march towards a progressive welfare Muslim state. He was addressing a seminar on Democracy in Pakistan: new challenges and opportunities in Islamabad on Friday.
The Prime Minister democracy in Pakistan is not a new phenomenon but it has passed through many difficult phases. The process was halted many times; three martial laws served to weaken democratic institutions and obstructed the march towards sustained economic development.
Referring to the struggle of Pakistan Peoples Party for restoration of democracy, Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani said the party since its inception has been in the guard for strengthening and fostering democracy and has made unprecedented sacrifices for attaining the goal.
The Prime Minister also mentioned the sacrifices of party founder Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto for the cause of democracy. He said thousands of party workers went under human torture and prolongs incarceration for restoration of democracy. He said he himself was sent to prison for not bowing before the dictator.
He said our government after taking over had to face a couple of serious problems including severe food and energy crisis, fiscal deficit and depleting foreign exchange reserves. He said the government has embarked upon a short, medium and long term policies to put the economy on sound footing. In this connection, the agriculture sector has been given the priority and expressed the confidence that the country will overcome the food shortages.
The Prime Minister said that in order to protect the poor segments of the society, we introduced Benazir Income Support programme, which is first in the country’s history. He said initiatives have also been taken to address gas and electricity shortages on emergent basis. Special focus is being laid on the exploration of gas and oil in the country to cope with the energy crisis. He said measures have been taken to enhance the thermal and hydel electric generation.
He said the gas pipeline project with Iran is also being fast tracked to meet the future needs of energy. Referring to the IMF programme, the Prime Minister successfully negotiated the package with the International fund for the stabilization of economy and reduces the economic crunch.
The Prime Minister expressed the confidence that the establishment of friends of Pakistan forum will help open new vistas of cooperation and bring new investment into the country. The Prime Minister reiterated Pakistan’s unflinching commitment in the fight against terrorism and extremism saying it is pursuing a multi-pronged strategy to effectively deal with the menaces.
He said in the fight against terrorism, Pakistan is the most affected state and has borne both human and economic loss. He, therefore, urged the international community to support the efforts of Pakistan in combating the menaces.
He expressed concern over the cross border drone attacks in the tribal belt saying these are counter productive to our strategy for the normalization of situation in the area. The Prime Minister said Pakistan wants to build strong relations with all its neighbouring countries including Afghanistan and India.
Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani said that peace and stability in Afghanistan of vital for Pakistan, and our government has constantly strived for improvement in ties with Afghanistan. It has been our endeavour to adopt common approach to deal with common challenge.
He said due to the effort of the democratic government, relations between both the countries have improved significantly He, in this regard mentioned the increased high level contacts at the political and people to people levels have brought the two countries closer. Referring to the relations with India, he said situation on our eastern border has become fragile in the wake of Mumbai incident. However, he said our effort for peace and stability remains steadfast and sincere.
Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani said the government extended full cooperation into the investigation of Mumbai attacks but regretted the Indian government unfortunately refused to accept our offer.
He said Pakistan has done a lot to improve relations with India and demonstrated unwavering commitment for dialogue with the neighbouring country. However, India unfortunately froze the composite dialogue process which is not the solution to solve the problem.
He said Kashmir is the core dispute between India and Pakistan and its resolution according to the aspirations of Kashmiri people is imperative for peace in the region.
He urged the international community to play its role in de-escalating the situation. Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani was of the view that the improved relations are necessary for resolution of problems between the two countries in particularly the unresolved Kashmir issue.
Dilating upon the bilateral relations with the U.K, Prime Minister said Pakistan and the United Kingdom have long history of relations based on mutual trust and expressed the confidence that the cooperation will further consolidate in the future.-SANA