Pak Affairs

Provincial autonomy, other achievements dividends of PPP’s conciliation policy: President

Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday called for joint efforts to fighting the menace of militancy and extremism by strengthening the country’s democratic institutions. “We will root out militancy and extremism from our land, no matter what the price,” the President said at a ceremony of allotment of plots and apartments to the families of martyrs, at the Presidency.

The ceremony was specially held to honour those who laid down their lives during the by-elections in Attock, during the movement for restoration of judiciary in July 2007 and those who martyred along with Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto on December 27, 2007 in Rawalpindi.

According to prepared text of the speech the President said that the government had taken measures to rehabilitate the families of those who laid down their lives to protect Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.

“Giving a plot or an apartment is no compensation for the sacrifice rendered by the heroes. This is our duty and we will do more to honour the families of heroes of democracy,” he said. He said this was no compensation to the sacrifices they rendered as there is no price for life. Instead, the President said it was merely recognition by the Pakistan Peoples Party government of its martyrs. “It should serve to remind that we will not forget our martyrs,” he added.

Spokesperson to the President Mr. Farhatullah Babar said that the President said the list of Shauhada was long and mentioned the martyrs of October 18, 2007 and those who laid down their lives during struggle for democracy at different times. “They all are our heroes and heroines. Indeed they are heroes and heroines of the nation,” he categorically said.

The President saluted the families of the martyrs of the party and said that their near and dear ones who laid down their lives for democracy had made the party and the nation proud. “We salute your courage and the courage of your near and dear ones who laid down their lives,” he said.

He quoted Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir who used to say that the central battle in Pakistan is the battle against militancy and terrorism, and Pakistan must win this battle. He said today’s function was held in honor of the party heroes and heroines who embraced martyrdom in this central battle for the survival of Pakistan.

He said the “Jan-Nisaran-i-Benazir” and fans of democracy were martyred in Attock during bye-elections in 2004, in Karachi on October 18, 2007, in Islamabad in July 2007 for restoration of the judiciary, in Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007 with Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, and in other parts of the country.

“They are our martyrs in our fight against militancy, which Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto had described the central battle of Pakistan,” he said. The President said, “Our thoughts go to the martyrs who laid down their lives and many hundreds more who were maimed and wounded while protecting the life of their leader, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.”

He said they had died for democracy and for valiantly fighting the forces of militancy and extremism. “They sacrificed their lives so our people could live in freedom, dignity and hope. We salute their courage, devotion and loyalty,” he said. The President termed them the “strength of the nation”, who by laying down their lives had inspired and motivated all to strive for worthy goals no matter what the odds.

The President said Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto had returned to the country in her own words, `bring change to my country by empowering its people and building political institutions’. He said the attack on Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was not an attack on an individual, rather it was an attack on forces of moderation fighting militancy and extremism.

He said the attack echoed what she had said that the fundamental battle in Pakistan was against fanaticism and extremism and that this battle can be won only under democracy. He recalled that Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto had promised before elections to provide these basic needs to the poor people of Pakistan. The President said that it was in line with this policy that the government reinstated the employees in organizations who had been sacked after the previous PPP government was illegally overthrown.

He said it was also in line with this promise of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto that we have given 12 percent shares in state owned corporations and entities to the workers. He said the government had restored the workers on their jobs and made them shareholders in the state-run entities. The President also referred to the government plan to give state lands in command areas of new dams free to the poor women of the area.

He pointed that the ‘Removal from Service Ordinance’ had been repealed so that no one is deprived of job because of political considerations. “We will give jobs and protect the existing jobs for the people. This is our policy and this is our manifesto,” he added.

The President said that a separate office called “Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Housing Cell” had been set up in Sindh in order to implement Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s promise to the people to provide them housing. He said the first phase of the project of the Special Cell will be launched in the coastal areas of Badin, Thatta and Karachi. These districts are routinely affected by calamity and people residing here need our attention on priority basis. The President thanked the international community for their assistance in this important project.

The President expressed satisfaction over Benazir Housing Cell that had developed a new technology in collaboration with UNDP for building houses in the rural areas. He said he had tasked the housing cell to provide 300,000 houses to the poor people of all rural areas in Pakistan. The ceremony was also attended by Parliamentarians, provincial ministers, families of martyrs and other high officials. -Input from Agencies

About the author

Azhar Masood

Azhar Masood is Controller of News in PTV, and Chief Instructor of PTV Academy, working for Arab News. He has Covered Iraq War from Baghdad for CNN, BBC, FOX News, and Al-Jazeera and other regional channels. He covered conflict in Bosnia Herzegovina. He interviewed Yasir Arafat of Palestine, Paul Wolfoweit, Prime Minister Jean Ghteyan of Canada, Dr. Amar Musa of Egypt, Mr. Haris Slajic, Prime Minister of Bosnia Dr. Akbar Ali Vallayati, former Foreign Minister of Iran, President Kumaratunge of Sri Lanka, Mr. Kumar Su Bramanyem, Director of National Defence Institute of India, Mr. Hamid Karzai President of Afghanistan, Dr. Ahmad Chalabi of Iraq National Congress, Mr. Hoshyar Zubari, Vice President Kurdish Democratic Party of Iraq

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