Prime Minister, Shaukat Aziz made three major policy
announcements in Karachi and Islamabad last week besides his meetings
with President Pervez Musharraf, PML Chief Ch. Shujaat Hussain, Sindh
Chief Minister and parliamentarians at the PM House.
At the ground breaking ceremony of Karachi
International Container Terminal, the Prime Minister declared a
five-year economic strategy of the government.
The strategy accords highest priority to the chronic
issue of water for drinking or agriculture purposes, which was receiving
the special attention of the government, while the electricity comes
next. The need for electricity, gas and need for hydrocarbons is there
to be recognized, as the economy cannot grow if the right level of
energy was not made available.
The development of infrastructure has been placed on
3rd in order, which includes development of ports, railways, road
network, airports, telecommunications and other means helping the
economy to function effectively. "To me, the development of human
capital was the most critical area of our efforts. We have to invest
more in health and education, skill enhancement and training. The
government was coming up with firm initiatives at all levels to achieve
this cherished goal, the PM observed.
Today, Pakistan has three major ports i.e. Karachi
Port, Port Qasim and Gwadar which are windows to the rest of the world
because the port is considered as the central point from where the
country interacts with its trading partners around the world. The
operation of these ports is directly linked with growth of economy hence
these ports need to be provided adequate operational capacity.
Speaking at a Pakistan Navel facility, PNS Johar at
Karachi, Prime Minister announced that Pakistan would not give a walk
over to any power in the Indian Ocean. Pakistan had no aggressive design
against any one, however, at the same time it was fully alive to its
defensive needs to safeguard integrity of the motherland. The government
believes in a minimum deterrence as a responsible and acknowledged
nuclear country of 150 million people.
"Our vision for national security is embedded in
economic sovereignty, strong defense, continued political process, good
governance and friendlier international environment," the Prime
Minister said, adding that "we must have an efficient strong and
viable navy that is fully alive to the modern day needs."
Addressing the convocation of Pakistan Institute of
Engineers and Applied Sciences at Nilor near Islamabad, Prime Minister
said "Pakistan is a peace loving country and stands for peace but
it cannot be assured without proper strength and its nuclear program is
guarantee for peace in the region. Pakistan's scientific development has
formed the basis of country's defense strategy, which is always to have
a credible defense."
He said Pakistan was a peaceful country and wanted
good relation with everyone. But he added, "Peace cannot be
achieved through weakness. Peace could be achieved through
strength." The country's nuclear program, the Prime Minister said,
was achieved due to a passion, where the scientists worked with a sense
of pride, achievement and accomplishment. "This (nuclear program)
has become a guarantor of peace for this whole region." He pointed
to the contribution of the Pakistani scientists in this regard and said
"many of you have given Pakistan the strength to succeed to
progress and develop."
In an interview to a private TV channel, Prime
Minister made it clear that elections would be held in 2007. He brushed
aside the whims of holding elections in 2006 being circulated in some
circles. Local bodies election will, however, be held in 2005, he added.
Speaking at Ulema and Mashaik Conference in Karachi,
the Prime Minister said that the universal principles of humanity,
equity, tolerance and peace were the basic fundamentals of Islam hence
it must not be projected as a religion vulnerable to the conspiracies.
He called upon the Ulema to refresh the conviction among the Muslims in
general and youth in particular regarding the strength of their
religion, which holds immense flexibility and promotes respect for
Responding to the submissions made by scholars with
regard to government policy towards the religious schools, the Prime
Minister said the government is keen to provide equal opportunities to
students registered with such institutions. "We desire these kids
could excel in medicine, engineering, information technology and other
modern disciplines," the idea is to help streamline the religious
schools and students.
Combating the menace of drug was another important
issue discussed at the cabinet meeting presided over by the PM. The
cabinet decided to set up a cabinet committee under the guidance of
narcotics minister, with an assignment to submit recommendations within
30 days. Other members of the committee include information, health,
social welfare and women development ministers. He said the cabinet
directed the Health Ministry to set up a pilot project by April 15.
The decision to set up a network of drug
rehabilitation centers all over the country was another significance
step, which will go a long way for addict's rehabilitation. The cabinet
also noted with concern the rise in drug proliferation. To arrest this
dangerous trend, it was decided to set up a ministerial committee headed
by the Minister for Narcotics Control.