Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani Wednesday said the government would soon convene an All Parties Conference (APC) to discuss and address the issues of Balochistan, particularly the law and order situation, through collective wisdom.
“There is a law and order situation in Balochistan, which has to be addressed. We are also talking with the coalition partners in this respect,” Gilani said in an interaction with senior newspaper editors here at the Prime Minister House.
The Prime Minister also mentioned the present government’s initiative of “Aghaz-e-Haqooq-Balochistan” to remove the sense of deprivation of the people of that province, adding, however, the law and order situation in Balochistan also overshadowed the initiative.
To a question, the Prime Minister termed the unanimous approval of the 20th Constitutional Amendment by the National Assembly as a historic milestone and said all political parties deserve the credit for it.
He said the 20th Constitutional Amendment would ensure free, fair and transparent elections in the country.
When asked as if the government would talk to the political parties outside the parliament on 20th Amendment, the Prime Minister said, “We are ready to talk to everyone.”
To another question, the Prime Minister said the new budget for the fiscal year 2012-13, to be presented in May, would be pro-poor and record relief would be given to the common man.
The decision to present budget in the month of May was taken during the last year’s budget debate, so that the Parliament could get enough time to debate the budget proposals before its passage from the National Assembly and Senate, he added.
To a question about the possibility of elections in 2012, Gilani said since article 58-2b was no more part of the Constitution, it is now the Prime Minister’s prerogative to call the elections.
“One cannot rule out early elections, but I cannot commit”, the Prime Minister said. He, however, added, the decision in this respect would be taken in consultation with the coalition partners.
To a question about Pak-Iran gas pipeline, the Prime Minister said, the Pak-Iran gas pipeline project was very much on the cards.
Prime Minister Gilani in response to a question said that when he was in the campaign during the general elections in 2008, the shortage of wheat flour was a big issue, adding, “but now we are exporting this commodity”.
About South Punjab province, Gilani said, though some other events are over-taking that issue but “We are committed for the creation of Seraiki province”.
To a question regarding Pak-India trade ties vis a vis Kashmir issue, the Prime Minister said that China despite having border dispute with India was engaged in heavy trade with India, adding, China being a close and trusted friend of Pakistan also wanted to see an economically-empowered Pakistan.
He, however, added that the title of Most Favoured Nation (MFN) was being misconstrued, as it only means “no discrimination” in trade like with other over 100 countries of the world.
The Prime Minister further said that as far as the issue of Non-Tariff Barriers in Pak-India trade was concerned, it was also discussed in the Cabinet and a committee has already been constituted to hold talks with all stakeholders.
Gilani said the cross-LoC trade between Azad Kashmir and the Indian held Kashmir has been recorded at over Rs. 15 billion since 2008. He, however, added that the government will not take any decision, which was contrary to national interests.
To a question as if he was satisfied with the performance of government, the Prime Minister said, despite not having the majority and running the government with the support of allied parties, legislation was being made on all important issues.
He said 85 to 90 percent decisions taken during the 104 cabinet meetings have been implemented.
About the problems of state controlled large enterprises like PIA, Railways and Steel Mills, the Prime Minister said a cabinet committee headed by the Finance Minister for restructuring of the public sector organizations was constituted after thorough discussion in the cabinet and their recommendations in this respect would be implemented.
To a question about appointing a new Finance Secretary, the Prime Minister said, it was a routine transfer-posting and had nothing to do with any conditionalities of the IMF.
Gilani said being a chief executive he took thousands of decisions during the last four years and might have made some mistakes, as he was also a human being.
To a question, the Prime Minister said the President was part of parliament, which consisted of the President, the National Assembly and Senate, adding, “we give respect to the parliament.”
When asked what would be his response if he was convicted by the Supreme Court in the contempt case, the Prime Minister said he would follow the Constitution.
About the upcoming visit of President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Islamabad for a trilateral meeting, he said, “neighbours can help each other.”
He said after concerted efforts of years, Pakistan succeeded in getting market access from the European Union.
Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Bangladesh Prime Minister Hasina Wajid also assured that their countries will not object to market access for Pakistan, he added.
He said the leaders at World Economic Forum at Davos joined their heads together to discuss steps to steer the world economy out of difficult conditions and recession.
It was decided at that forum that besides G-20 countries, developing countries should also be included in the process of consultations to generate economic growth, he added.
He said the government has reduced its dependency on the International Monetary Fund.
When he was asked about civil military relations, Gilani said there was a misunderstanding but now there is a clarity after removal of the defence secretary due to issues of procedure.
The Prime Minister said he will take decision about extension to the Director General ISI when the time will come.
He said he takes decisions in the national interest and it is wrongly perceived that United States interferes in decision making in Pakistan.
He said the federal government has taken a serious notice of activities of banned organizations and has written to the provincial governments that such organizations should not be allowed to operate.
About public meetings of Pakistan Defence Council (PDC), he said the government did not stop NATO supplies on a call from such parties.
To another question, he said he always said that parties formed by dictators disappear from the scene when they go away.
The parties which are set up overnight cannot sustain, he added.
Gilani said all the previous reports and resolutions on Balochistan were incorporated by the committee formed by the present parliament to address the situation in the province.
He said all positive steps like provincial autonomy, NFC award, royalties, ownership rights and giving of jobs, lose significance when there are issues of missing persons and law and order.
He said he took up the issue of interference in Balochistan by India during his meeting with Dr. Manmohan Singh at Sharm el Sheikh.
All matters including terrorism is being taken up by Pakistan and India during their secretary level talks, he explained.
He said it is a red line when US Congress takes up the internal matter of Balochistan in its hearing.
The parliament has passed a unanimous resolution on US Congress hearing as it is a matter of sovereignty of Pakistan, he added.
The Prime Minister said he considers himself innocent and his expectation from the Supreme Court will be that he will get justice.
Gilani said the passage of 20th amendment concerns people as it is matter of right of vote and it is not right when the elections are stolen and an imported prime minister is installed to get results of one’s choice.
He said Pakistan Peoples Party suffered most due to rigged elections.