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PM Gilani pledges 'basic rights' for Baloch

26 February, 2012

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said on Saturday the government is committed to ensuring the basic rights of the people of Balochistan, adding that Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan is a first step in this direction.

"It is our responsibility ... to resolve grievances of the people of Balochistan as they are very much committed to the integrity, solidarity, progress and prosperity of Pakistan," the prime minister told reporters at Prime Minister's House. He said a committee has been constituted to contact political leadership of the country to convene an All-parties Conference (APC) on the Balochistan issue. He said he would soon meet the Balochistan governor and chief minister and engage all stakeholders in a process to improve affairs of the province.

Baloch people, he added, had rendered sacrifices for Pakistan and were loyal to the country as much as people from other parts of the country.

About a US congressman's resolution for an "independent" Balochistan, Gilani said the US government has already clarified that the bill has nothing to do with its policies.

Gilani said there is no threat to Pakistan as it is strong, stable and powerful country and its defence is in strong hands. About a joint sitting of parliament to finalise a new strategy on Pak-US relations and reviving NATO supply routes, the prime minister said the session would be held after Senate elections.

He, however, said the decision to open NATO supply would be taken in national interests and not on the demand or under pressure from any group. Gilani said the government would consult the opposition leader for holding the next general elections.

The prime minister said he had asked the Finance Ministry to prepare a people's-friendly budget, adding that the ministry has also been asked to create 100,000 more jobs this year. He said the government has been taking a number of steps to overcome power and gas crisis. He said that under the present government, 3,500MW of electricity had been added to the national grid. "The government has taken short-term, mid-term and long-term decisions to resolve the power crisis," he said. The prime minister said the government is also making sincere efforts to meet gas shortages, adding that it is committed to availing the fuel from all-possible means, including the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline and importing gas from Qatar.

Gilani said the government has been making all-out efforts to improve the law and order situation. About his appeal to Taliban to help establish peace in Afghanistan, the prime minister said he had made the appeal to all Taliban leaders and it was not specific to any group "so that they could join hands for Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process". Gilani said that although parliament would make a final decision on the future foreign policy with the US, "Pakistan wants to have good and friendly relations with all countries on the basis of mutual interests and mutual respect."

He said election of Pakistan to the United Nations Security Council was a dividend of Pakistan's successful foreign policy.

The prime minister also clarified that there was no underhand deal reached by the PIA to purchase new aircraft.

About the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status for India, Gilani said that such a status means "no discrimination" in trade activities with any country. About an expected decision on a contempt of court case against him, the prime minister said he would emerge as a "martyred or ghazi".

Gilani said the PML-N had started violating the Charter of Democracy by fielding its candidates on the seats won by the PPP in the 2008 elections. He said PML-N leaders had come to him and asked him that the PPP should withdraw from the Punjab government.

End.

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