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Afghanistan must avoid 'baseless' allegations: PM Ashraf

13 December, 2012

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Wednesday urged the Afghanistan government to refrain from unfounded accusations against Pakistan.

Terming as "baseless" the allegations levelled by Afghanistan regarding Pakistan's involvement in the attack on the head of National Directorate of Security, the prime minister said the Afghan government should provide solid proofs about the incident. In his opening remarks at the cabinet's weekly meeting, Raja said Pakistan is a peaceful country and gives value to its relations with neighbouring states in particular.

He said the world and the neighbouring countries must realise that Pakistan considers terrorism and extremism as major challenges. "Instead of blame game, we should join hands to defeat the nefarious designs of terrorists," he said and assured that the Pakistan government would fight extremists at all fronts. The prime minister strongly condemned the terrorist attack at a police station in Bannu, which killed three policemen, an army soldier and two citizens.

He also expressed sorrow over the attack on a rally of Awami National Party that injured eight persons. The prime minister vowed to fight terrorism and said such cowardly attacks could not deter the government's resolve to eradicate militancy. He paid tribute to President Asif Ali Zardari on his initiative to set up 'Malala Fund' with a seed money of 10 million dollars, aimed at educating girls all over the world by year 2015. He expressed the hope that the step would help foil the designs of the elements that fan hatred, violence and ignorance.

Raja said Pakistan was heading towards general elections and added that free, fair and transparent polls were vital for the continuity of democracy, and for national progress and prosperity. He said only an elected leadership could determine the direction for a sustainable economic, social and political progress in the country. "Insha Allah, Pakistan People's Party and its allies will sweep the forthcoming polls," he said.

He mentioned the recent judgement of Supreme Court that exposed the manipulation of election results done in the past. He said that the government, in accordance with the vision of Benazir Bhutto, was taking steps to ensure free elections in the country and to check any possibility of manoeuvring in the polls. He said the government would provide all-out support to the election commission in this regard.

Prime Minister Raja prayed for the departed souls of Senator Malik Salahuddin Dogar and Senator Wali Muhammad Badeeni who passed away recently. He acknowledged their services for the country and nation. He congratulated Jam Yusuf for assuming the charge of Privatisation Ministry.

Meanwhile, the federal cabinet on Wednesday approved increase in reserved seats for minorities in the national and provincial assemblies as it endorsed a draft constitution amendment bill. Under the proposed piece of legislation, reserved seats for minorities in the National Assembly would be increased from the existing 10 to 14, in Balochistan Assembly from existing three to four; in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly from three to four; in Punjab Assembly from eight to ten, and in Sindh Assembly from existing nine to 12 seats.

Briefing newsmen about decisions of the cabinet, Information Minister, Qamar Zaman Kaira said the decision has been taken in conformity with the Charter of Democracy, vision of Benazir Bhutto, and manifesto of PPP and its allied parties. He said that the government would make efforts to get the constitutional amendment passed from parliament before the coming elections for the benefit of minorities.

Taking serious notice of reports of corruption in the country, the prime minister formed a four-member ministerial committee to look into the reports, dig out facts and give proposals to improve the perception. Kaira said that the prime minister directed ministers concerned to take up the issue of strike by truckers in Sindh with the provincial government and resolve it at the earliest.

To a question regarding the CNG crisis, the information minister said the crisis is mainly due to shortage of gas supply and the pricing issue. However, OGRA will soon resolve the crisis, he added.


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