Minister for Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said on Wednesday that the immunity to President Asif Ali Zardari has been given by the Parliament and only this institution has the right to withdraw it.
Replying to questions of media persons after the Federal Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani here, she said that Prime Minister’s legal team has been preparing reply on the direction to write letter to Swiss Courts and he has already shared his views on the issue with the media in Lahore.
The minister said that the Prime Minister will act as per the Constitution and he will never violate the Constitution on the issue.
To a question, she said that in the democratic process, cabinets are reshuffled and it is the prerogative of the Prime Minister to reshuffle his team whenever he considers it right. However, she said that in the cabinet meeting no consultation was held on this issue.
To a query, she said that the government in its fifth budget this May will try to provide maximum relief to the common man.
The minister said that successful completion of Senate elections was great achievement of the present democratic set up and the fifth presidential adress to the Joint Sitting of the Parliament on coming Saturday will also be a milestone.
To a question about prices of daily-use items and utilities prices she said that the people’s government was utilizing national resources to provide relief to the people of Pakistan. However she said that when prices of petroleum products increase in the international market the government has to pass on the burden to the consumers.
She said if the government caps the prices of petroleum products, it will result in huge circular debt, and provision of subsidy will result in inflation which will add to peoples financial problems.
Dr Firdous said that Consumer Price Index is discussed in every meeting as the government wants to control prices of daily use items. The federal government wants to provide relief to the masses and the Prime Minister has issued directions to the Finance Ministry in this regard but increase in daily use commodities at international level also affects Pakistan.
The minister said that PPP leadership has been following the policy of reconciliation and it does not respond to opposition’s allegations. She said that there are several reports of corruption in the Punjab but the PPP does not believe in politics of victimization and history will judge the performance of all governments.
About Mehran-gate scandal, she said that the PPP was waiting for the superior judiciary’s verdict on the issue as names of several so-called clean politicians are coming in this scandal.
She said Punjab government must promote the concept of good governance in the province, setting a role model for other provinces to follow.
The Minister criticized the several projects of the Punjab government like Sasti Roti, factors behind construction of overhead bridges and distribution of laptops.
About Pak-Iran gas pipe line project, she said that the issue did not figure in the Cabinet meeting, but its timely completion was government’s top priority and it can divert funds from some other projects to ensure its early completion.
About the next general elections, she said that it was the prerogative of the PPP top leadership and the Prime Minister of Pakistan to chalk out a strategy in this regard and make a final decision.
Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said the cabinet approved the establishment of a Regional Flood Information System in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan Region (HKH-HYCOS).
She said that International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) had been established by eight Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan and is incorporated in Nepal under an Act of Parliament (1983) as a regional research and development agency.
It has been working towards sustainable mountain development in the HKH region and its mission is to develop an environmentally and economically sound mountain ecosystem. It also contributes towards sustainable management of water resources and flood risk reduction including improvement in quality of life of population living in the HKH region,the minister said.
She said that the Cabinet reviewed the implementation status of Cabinet decisions pertaining to National Disaster Management(NDMA), Overseas Pakistanis and Planning & Development Divisions. The Cabinet was informed that 75 per cent , 50 per cent, 88 per cent decisions pertaining to the NDMA, Overseas Pakistanis and Planning Divisions respectively have been implemented and the remaining are in the process of implementation,she said.
The Prime Minister,she said,directed NDMA to devise a holistic approach in dealing with disaster management and a meeting in this regard should be convened for taking all stake holders on board.
Dr Firdous said that Finance Secretary made a presentation on the latest trends of prices of essential commodities in the country. The Finance Secretary informed the Cabinet that prices of 31 items have decreased while there is slight increase in prices of 7 non-food items and no change in prices of 15 items has been observed in the country,she said.
The minister said that the Cabinet considered and referred the matter to The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) for resolution of capacity payments to IPPs during Feb-May 2011 owing to gas supply curtailment by SNGPL.
The Cabinet considered and accorded its approval, in principle, to start negotiations and signing of Protocol of Cooperation in the field of Archives between the Governments of the Republic of Turkey and Pakistan,the minister told.
The Cabinet, she said, considered and approved recognizing Vietnam as a full market. Vietnam is one of the important members of the ASEAN and an emerging economy in the Asia and Pacific region after China. The Ministry of Commerce is interacting with Vietnam through the forum of Joint Commission on Trade (JTC), to explore avenues of economic and trade cooperation.
The Cabinet considered and accorded its approval for renaming of Maritime Security Agency (MSA) as Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA). It is pertinent to mention that Maritime Security Agency was established in 1987 vide Gazette Notification which was followed by an Act of Parliament in 1994, MSA is a Government organization which is performing policing role in Exclusive Economic Zone of Pakistan.
In this context, it is pertinent to highlight that the designation MSA does not readily convey/facilitate recognition as a Law Enforcement Agency. As such, it is felt appropriate that the organization be renamed as “Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PSMA)”, The name PSMA would establish identity of the Agency as a national government organization, both at national and international level.
Dr Firdous said that the Cabinet considered and gave its approval to enter into negotiations over an agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters between Pakistan and Poland. She said that Ministry of Foreign Affairs has intimated that the Polish Government is interested in early finalization of the agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in criminal matters, which will help carrying forward investigation into the murder of the Polish Geologist Piotr Stanezak.