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Federal Cabinet unanimously endorses army action: PM

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ISLAMABAD: The Federal Cabinet at its meeting Islamabad on Saturday unanimously endorsed the decision for army action in Malakand and approved several measures for building indigenous consensus and enlisting support of the international community.

Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, who chaired the meeting, later told newsmen that the Cabinet decided to institute Prime Minister’s Special Fund for Victims of Terrorism with initiall contribution of 200 million rupees. Members of the cabinet announced to contribute their one month salary to the fund for victims of terrorism in Swat.

He said Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) would be supported under Benazir Income Support Programme and a Cabinet Committees would soon be constituded for day to day monitoring of the IDPs issue and also for areas where action is being taken. The Prime Minister held out an assurance that there would be total transparency for utilization of the funds to be received for relief and rehabilitation of the IDPs, reconstruction of affected areas and capacity building of the law enforcing agencies.

In line with the policy of the Government to discuss all important issues on the floor of the parliament, the cabinet decided to summon the session of the National Assembly on Monday next at four in the afternoon. The house will discuss the decision of the Government to launch army operation in Malakand division.

The Cabinet also decided to contact all political forces and members of the civil society to hold peace marches in different parts of the country against terrorists and terrorism. Group of ministers would meet political leadership to gather their support for the cause which the Government is pursuing in the larger interest of the country. The cabinet paid tributes to leaders who have already extended their full cooperation and support in this regard.

To a question Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani said a decision to convene an All Parties Conference on national security would be taken on return home of the PPP Co-Chairperson from abroad.

He said as militants have no religion and boundaries, Ulema and Mashaikh would be contacted to present true perception of Islam.

Imam-e-Kaaba would also be invited to visit Pakistan to speak on the subject. Media would also be approached to help tackle the issue in view of the gravity of the situation. The Prime Minister said the Cabinet has decided to send delegations of Ministers and parliamentarians abroad to muster financial and diplomatic support of the international community so as to effectively tackle the challenge.

He said the delegations visiting abroad would sensitize the world community about the need for reconstruction in the affected areas where schools, hospitals, infrastructure and tourist attractions have been destroyed. To a question he said the government is committed to the three Ds policy of dialogue, development and deterrence but development is only possible when there is peace in the area.

Asked when he expects the operation to be over, the Prime Minister said it is not a normal war but guerilla war. It is resolve of the Government and army to ensure minimum collateral damage and the operation would be brought to an end as soon as possible.

The Prime Minister said the reports of the intelligence agencies on the security issues and terrorism would be shared with the provincial governments concerned. To a question he said the peace accord was concluded in line with the aspirations of the people but action has to be taken following violation of the agreement by the other side. He said this amounted to mutiny and the Government decided to review the accord which was linked to peace in the region.

The Prime Minister said the Cabinet has decided to concentrate on Balochistan issue, process of dialogue with Baluch leaders should be taken forward and steps taken to address the sense of deprivation of Baluch people.

To another question Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani said PPP has good relations with PML(N) and Mian Nawaz Sharif provided much needed support on different occasions. The party gave its fully support on issues of national security and interest.

About rejoining of the Federal Cabinet by PML(N), the Prime Minister said the party has some demands including repeal of 17th amendment and they would be asked to rejoin at an appropriate time. He said restoration of the judiciary was also a hurdle in this regard which has now been removed. NNI

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