Lal Masjid, Jamia Hafsa issue to be resolved peacefully: Cabinet told
12 April, 2007
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz reiterated that anybody taking law into his own hand will be dealt with sternly as law enforcing agencies have clear instructions to that effect.
We have many options to deal with the Lal Masjid and Madrassa Hafsa issue. However, our objective is to settle it peacefully but firmly, with prudence, the prime minister observed this while addressing the meeting of federal cabinet here on Wednesday.
Giving a briefing to the media men about the Cabinet meeting, minister for information and broadcasting Mohammad Ali Durrani said that interior minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao briefed the Cabinet on the situation relating to Lal Masjid and Madrassa Hafsa. The Cabinet was informed that the government is fully aware of its responsibility but would like to exhaust all peaceful means to avoid any damages to lives.
Efforts by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain are underway and any decision will be taken at the conclusion of these efforts. The government is following a peaceful track which is based on principles. However, the writ of the State and the government will be established at all costs, the Cabinet was told.
The interior minister appreciated the fact that all religious scholars of standing representing different schools have roundly criticized the action bythe administration of Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa and the people of Pakistan are solidly behind the government on this issue. He assured that the matter will be resolved in harmony with the sentiments of the people. The Minister for Religious Affairs presented the background to the situation and the efforts he has been making for its resolution.
The Cabinet noted the situation in Parachinar. The prime minister said sectarian violence was condemnable and will be dealt with firmly. He however hoped that better sense will prevail and the local community leaders will join hands with the law-enforcement agencies in crushing such trends.
The prime minister complimented the members of the Cabinet on the manner in which they have acted with confidence and grace in handling the recent issues. He said the government had the greatest of respect for judiciary and will abide fully by the judgement of the Supreme Judicial Council. He discouraged any discussion on the subject as it was a subjudice matter.
The prime minister briefed the Cabinet about his visit to India to attend the SAARC summit and the exchanges he had with the Indian leadership. H also informed the Cabinet about his meetings with the Afghan president and the APHC leaders from the Indian held Kashmir.
About the forthcoming visit of the Russian prime minister to Pakistan, Mr Aziz said it was the first by a Russian Prime minister in 38 years. The prime minister said he was confident it would mark a new beginning in Pakistan-Russian relations.
The prime minister also informed the cabinet about his forthcoming visit to China.
The cabinet noted the change in supply of electric power to Karachi and decided that the city will be provided electricity to the maximum extent possible from the total power generated. The minister for water and power informed the cabinet that 1000 megawatts of electricity will be available from Iran within the next two years. Both countries will erect transmission lines within their own boundaries. This would help meet power shortages in the country, especially in Balochistan and Sindh.
The Cabinet also noted with satisfaction the record estimated wheat crop of 23 million metric tons and also the 76 percent increase in production of gram this year. The minister for Food, Agriculture and Livestock Sikandar Hayat Bosan also informed the Cabinet about the substantial increase in lentil, potato and sugarcane crop. He said growth in maize production is 6.4% above the last year level. There has also been substantial increase in livestock growth all of which would increase agricultural income and help reduce poverty in the rural areas. This has been due to higher yield and productivity as a result of a series of measures taken by the government in the past year to facilitate the agriculture sector.
The Chairman Higher Education Commission Dr Att ur Rehman made a presentation about the initiatives launched by Commission to improve the higher education sector.
The presentation was followed in-depth discussion by cabinet ministers.
The prime minister directed that all PhD degree holders working in colleges and universities will get the same amount of PhD allowances at the rate of Rs 5000 per month as PhD allowances from July 1, 2007, PhD allowances for the college teachers is Rs 1500 per month.
The prime minister said that universities should be set up in the areas where faculty and other facilities are available.
The Cabinet also decided that fully funded scholarships for university education will be given to students belonging to less developed areas and the areas where no university exists.
The prime minister said there is a need for maintaining balance between primary, secondary and higher education to make a strong pyramid of education structure in the country. The government has taken a holistic approach to improve the access to and quality of education at all levels, the prime minister said.
The prime minister directed HEC to do ranking of all public and private sector universities, which should be published so as to bring the standard of Pakistani universities at par with the international universities in a comparative manner.
The cabinet also accorded approval in principle to the Pakistan Health Research Council Bill 2007 and also approved amendments in the Delimitation of Constituencies Act 1974 in order to bring the provisions of the Act in conformity with the increase in number of seats of the Parliament.