Overpowering power crisis top priority: PM Ashraf
29 June, 2012
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said on Thursday that coping with the energy crisis was the government's top priority, although he refrained from giving a deadline to end the menace of load shedding.
"We are making all-out efforts to improve the affairs of power sector and are on way towards betterment," he told the media outside the National Power Control Centre (NPCC).
The prime minister said that he understood challenges facing the power sector, citing his past experience as power minister.
Raja claimed there had been an improvement on the load shedding issue, adding that he did not want to make tall claims and wanted the public to feel the difference for themselves.
Asked to give a deadline to overcome the energy crisis, Raja said he had been criticised for his claims in the past for not meeting deadlines and, therefore, he did not want to comment on it.
He said he had directed the Water and Power Ministry to ensure uniform load shedding throughout the country. However, he clarified that load shedding was being done on the basis of "allocated quota" and "proportionately".
Separately, the prime minister underscored the importance of projecting soft image of Pakistan through public diplomacy by encouraging people-to-people contacts, cultural exchange programmes and promoting business and trade the world over.
He was given a detailed briefing at the Foreign Office by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani.
Raja emphasised on the urgency of interacting with the third generation of expatriate Pakistanis, especially those living in Europe and the US, "because sustainability of their attachment with Pakistan will be a great asset for the country".
The prime minister asked the Foreign Office to focus on expanding ties with African countries because "there exists immense potential of bilateral cooperation and that is the reason as to why focus of many emerging powers is shifting to these countries".
The prime minister said that the prevalence of goodwill in the continent, which was earned due to the successful UN peace keeping mission headed by the Pakistan Army, should be leveraged to promote Pakistan's interests.
The prime minister asked officers of the ministry several questions regarding functioning of Pakistani missions abroad and called upon them to pro-actively pursue the trade diplomacy as it has assumed greater significance in the modern diplomacy.
He said that Pakistan's foreign policy was confronted with many challenges but he also expressed his confidence that the Foreign Ministry was quite capable of converting these challenges into opportunities.
"Pakistan's foreign policy is in safe hands," the prime minister said.
Earlier, Hina Rabbani Khar welcomed the prime minister at the Foreign Office.
She said her team was endeavouring to achieve foreign policy objectives through "our missions abroad and also through interaction with diplomatic community based in Islamabad".
The foreign secretary elaborated upon the functioning of different departments of the ministry. Heads of departments also briefed the prime minister about their functions and role in the country's foreign policy.