PM TRACKER
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REFORMATION OF OIC URGED; PRINCE AGA A GREAT FRIEND

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From SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI,
 Islamabad

June 06 - 12, 2005
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The Prime Minister, Shaukat Aziz has inaugurated a two-day conference of OIC Commission, met Prince Karim Aga Khan and US Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca, ruling party chief Ch. Shujaat Hussain and Balochistan Governor Owais Ghani. Besides presiding over meetings of the Cabinet and the National Economic Council, reviewing of the performance of the Civil Aviation Authority was also a part of Prime Minister's busy schedule last week.

At the OIC Commission meeting in Islamabad, the Prime Minister has expressed his confidence that restructuring and reformation of OIC in accordance to the enlightened moderation strategy will effectively deal with the multi-faceted challenges confronted to the Muslim Ummah today.

He urged the Commission of the eminent personalities to formulate concrete suggestions and a roadmap, with a view to help in re-inventing, re-engineering and re-invigorating the Organisation to make it a vibrant and dynamic and a true representative of the Ummah.

The Prime Minister has urged the member countries of Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) to focus their efforts on ensuring poverty eradication, human development for peace and prosperity in the world and properly projecting Islam as a peaceful religion. He said the OIC countries should face the challenges being faced by the Muslim Ummah and take effective, practical and comprehensive steps to overcome these challenges. He said that Islamic world has the potential to seize the moment and realize the promise of a glorious destiny and expressed the confidence that with collective wisdom and unity, the Ummah can overcome these challenges successfully.

He said Islam advocates harmony, tolerance, coexistence, peace and compassion and calls for good governance, justice, ethnic equality and respect the basic rights of women and accountability while prohibits all types of discrimination, racism. He, however, said there is no substitute of dialogue, accommodation and harmony to foster understanding and evolve equitable and just global order with an aim to resolve all disputes confronting Muslim Ummah. He said the OIC would also have to take steps to address the weaknesses of Ummah bringing the Muslim countries close to use enormous potential and rich natural resources for progress and prosperity of Muslims around the world.

The Prime Minister said that today the economic strength determines the status and position of a bloc for a country in the comity of nations and called upon the OIC to chalk out a strategy to prioritize economic growth target of Muslim countries and pursue poverty eradication through mutual, financial and investment support.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has described Prince Karim Aga Khan, spiritual leader of Ismaili community as a 'great friend' of Pakistan and paid glowing tributes to the valuable contribution by the prince in the socio-economic development in the country.

Speaking at a luncheon, he hosted in the honour of the distinguished guest at the PM House, the Prime Minister also acknowledged his services for the Ummah and the developing world.

Welcoming Prince Aga Khan, Prime Minister Aziz said that he had been a source of strength for Pakistan. He praised the contribution of Aga Khan Foundation in the development of social sector in the country, particularly in the areas of education and health. The Prime Minister termed Aga Khan University as an icon of excellence, saying it has raised the level of education and is contemplating new initiatives.

 

 

He also praised Prince Aga Khan's hospital in providing quality health services and in helping the poor patients. He especially mentioned the role of the Aga Khan Foundation in the development of the Northern Areas. "The work and development by the Aga Khan Foundation has changed the entire outlook of the Northern Areas and has raised the income level of poor people," he said.

Prince Karim Aga Khan congratulated Prime Minister Aziz and the government for their economic achievements and creating an enabling environment so that institutions could grow and flourish. Speaking about the further initiatives, particularly in the education sector, Prince Aga Khan said that they wanted to see the Aga Khan University not merely serving Pakistan but also the Ummah and the developing world. The Foundation plans to have new campus in Kenya, East Africa and other countries. This would carry a good message abroad about the Pakistani universities, the PM observed.

On Pakistan's economy, Prince Aga Khan said, it has a tremendous potential to grow. "If Pakistan explores its full potential, growth rate of 8.35 percent is only a refection of what Pakistan can do," he added.

Later, the National Economic Council in its meeting held in Islamabad on Friday which was chaired by the Prime Minister has approved Rs306 billion for Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) during 2005-06. The announcement shows a 41 percent increase over the last year's PSDP of Rs202 billion. The development program includes Rs34 billion to be raised by the corporations and organisations, such as Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) and National Highways Authority (NHA) from its own resources, and foreign component of Rs65.3 billion. The provinces will get Rs68 billion under PSDP for their development programs.

Planning Division Deputy Chairman, Dr. Akram Shaikh in a briefing to the media on the National Economic Council (NEC) decisions, has said that exports target for 2005-06 would be $15.7 billion as against $14 billion in the current fiscal year, while imports target would be $19.8 billion as compared to $17.6 billion in the current fiscal year. The export and import targets for the current fiscal year were well within the reach and will help Pakistan's economy for a sustainable growth in the international trade, he said.

The National Economic Council has set a growth target for 2005-06 at 7 percent of the GDP, adding the rate would range between 7 and 8.5 percent during 2005-10. The GDP size for 2005-06 would be Rs6,984 billion against Rs6,548 billion in 2004-05.

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet, which met last Thursday with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in the chair, allowed self-power generation to the industrial sector to bring down input cost. Briefing the journalists after the meeting, Dr. Asfhaque Hasan Khan, Economic Advisor to Finance Ministry, said that all the industrial units would be allowed to generate electricity for their personal use, but not to sell to other units, adding that Wapda and KESC did not oppose the move.

The Federal Cabinet with Shaukat Aziz in the chair has discussed in detail the relief measures for the poor and the salaried class in the next budget. Briefing media, the premier said the budget for fiscal 2005-06 would be presented in the National Assembly on June 6. He said the government was fully aware of the problems of the common man and there were plans in hand to offer relief, besides taking steps to check the increasing trend of the prices of essential commodities. The Cabinet also thoroughly deliberated the economic as well as the political situation in the country and the Prime Minister gave details about the contacts with the opposition parties

The Cabinet also approved a National Gender Reforms Action Plan, empowerment of the women and their rightful role within our values and cultural setup of our society. In order to accord legal sanction to Telecom Deregulations Policy and Mobile Cellular Policy, the cabinet approved amendments in the Reorganization Act 1996. The amendments will protect the consumer rights and also provide benefits to the rural and urban population by regulating the telecommunication sector, which has grown manifold and has attracted two billion dollar foreign investment.

US Assistant Secretary of State, Ms. Christina Rocca last Wednesday called on Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz at the Prime Minister's Secretariat and discussed bilateral relations including defense, economic and trade issues as well as the regional situation. The Prime Minister has expressed satisfaction over the growing cooperation and close relations between the two countries and welcomed the decision of the United States government to sell F-16 aircraft to Pakistan. The decision, he said, would contribute towards meeting Pakistan's legitimate defense needs.

Prime Minister Aziz said that economic and trade relations would be increased further and Pakistan would benefit from foreign direct investment by American investors. Referring to relations with India, the Prime Minister said Pakistan remained committed to the composite dialogue process with India and believes that the process is irreversible.

Ms. Christina Rocca said that the US values its relations with Pakistan, especially the cooperation extended in the global war against terrorism, which was highly appreciated by the US as well as the international community. She assured of continued US cooperation to strengthen Pakistan's security and increase economic and trade relations. Ms. Rocca also welcomed Pakistan's assistance to Afghanistan and its positive role with respect to its relations with India.

In an interaction with PML (Q) President Ch. Shujat Hussain, the Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said that the PML government has to deliver what it has promised in its manifesto particularly with regard to improve standard of living of the people in rural as well as urban areas of the country. "We need to energize the PML on the provincial level and emphasized the need to strengthen PML on district, tehsil as well as gross roots level," he said adding that the government is launching soon the Khushaal Pakistan program, which will be extended to the entire country. It would include projects related to health, education, roads, clean drinking water and infrastructure. "Pakistan Muslim League is the party, which created Pakistan, and as now it is in government, it is its duty to steer the country on road to progress and prosperity," said the premier.

Talking to Governor Balochistan, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz renewed government's firm resolve to the speedy development of Balochistan. During the meeting, they discussed the progress made so far with regard to the ongoing development schemes and projects in the province particularly Gwadar port and emphasized the need for its early completion. The Prime Minister expressed satisfaction over the improved law and order situation and said that the federal government would continue its support to the province for the progress and prosperity of the people.

Inaugurating the 36th meeting to Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council in Islamabad Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has said Pakistan and India will have to show political will to resolve all outstanding issues including Kashmir to ensure better future of the South Asian region. "Pakistan is committed to peace and stability in the region and it has demonstrated courage and flexibility for just resolution of the Kashmir issue, which lies at the heart of the peace process."

The Prime Minister said an amicable solution of Kashmir issue calls for courage, flexibility and magnanimity and a will to find a way from all the stakeholders. "The dialogue process between India and Pakistan was irreversible, however, it is the responsibility of both Pakistan and India to make it result-oriented."

The premier said solution of the Kashmir issue and our economic relations with India must move in a direction to ensure peace, security and stability in the region. He said Pakistan firmly believes in a just solution of the issue to the satisfaction of both India and Pakistan in accordance to the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir who are suffering from torturous agony since 1947.