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Firdous hints at cabinet reshuffle after Senate polls process

11 March, 2012

LAHORE: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan has said it is the democratic right of the prime minister and the ruling coalition to make changes in the federal cabinet.

However, no reshuffle or change in the federal cabinet is likely at the moment. But anything is possible after the Senate election process is completed, she added.

Talking to reporters after inaugurating a construction and building materials exhibition, "Build Pakistan 2012", here at Lahore Expo Centre on Saturday, Firdous said the PPP leadership would decide the fate of the cabinet in the greater national interest after consulting coalition partners. However, the top priority right now is administering an oath to the newly-elected senators and the election of the deputy and chairman of the Senate.

About the Mehran Bank scandal, she said the Supreme Court (SC) was hearing the historic case, in which former Mehran Bank President Younus Habib had made startling disclosures. He had disclosed the names of several sacred cows, who always tried to voluntarily offer their cooperation to the courts in almost every case. "Now I appeal to those so-called champions of democracy to appear before the apex court for accountability and keep their tradition of cooperation with the judiciary."

The minister said they should give their clarifications to the apex court instead of the media and avail the opportunity of making history by appearing before the courts. She said the Pakistan People's Party expects the Supreme Court to do justice by fixing responsibility and giving exemplary punishment to all those elements who looted the national exchequer for their vested interests. She said those elements were responsible for toppling the government of Benazir Bhutto.

She said former president Mehran Bank also revealed that the then in-charge of the political cell in the Aiwan-e-Sadr, Roedad Khan, had pressurised Fozi Ali Kazmi for registering fake cases against President Asif Zardari. "History has proved that those so-called champions of democracy always hatched conspiracies against the PPP," she said and demanded that the apex court should make Roedad Khan and his political aides part of investigation.

Criticising Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, she said he claimed to be a champion of democracy, and always made tall claims about good governance and criticised President Zardari. But now the time had come for him to present himself before the court for accountability and prove that he was a true democratic leader.

Responding to a question, Firdous said toppling of a democratic government was high treason and the culprits should be dealt with accordingly. The role of all institutions, including the military, intelligence agencies and political parties should be defined to resolve the issue once and for all. Otherwise, similar cases would continue coming to the fore, she added.

She said the PPP wanted to remain alive in the history of the country. It did not believe only in day-to-day affairs. Historians would definitely recognise the struggle of the PPP for restoring democracy in the country, she added.

She avoided a question related to Babar Awan by stating that she did not want to comment as it was a constitutional and legal matter.

Responding to a question, she said the public had given a mandate to the PPP for five years and her party would not take part in any activity to ruin the public mandate. She pointed out that the Election Commission still required time to complete the voters' lists; otherwise free and fair elections would not be possible.

She congratulated the organisers of "Build Pakistan 2012" and said there was a dire need for such an event to promote investment and the softer image of the country. She said foreign investors were not willing to invest in Pakistan due to security concerns, but such events could help the country in attracting foreign investment.

She said by establishing an expo centre in Lahore, the federal government had met the demand of the business community in the Punjab. Now it's the business community's responsibility to utilise the facility and attract foreign investors to visit Pakistan.

Delivering the messages of the president and prime minister, the minister said the government recognised the role of the private sector in the national economy. She announced that the government was considering various proposals to give incentives to Pakistani exporters in the forthcoming federal budget. She urged the business community and chambers of commerce to team up for evolving a new export strategy for the country. She assured the federal government's full support to the private sector. She urged the media to play its positive role for promoting Pakistan's soft image and creating new avenues of investment in the country.

APP adds: Firdous Awan said "Roti, Kapra and Makan" was the core manifesto of the PPP and only a democratic system could guarantee public prosperity and protect their rights. "The present government has added 3,200-MW electricity to the national grid, however, the power demand is higher than generation," she added.

She said the federal government would provide relief to the masses by the end of the current year.

Firdous Ashiq Awan said the PPP-led coalition government deemed the building and construction sector as the backbone of economy and would prioritise it in the upcoming federal budget.


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