Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, explaining the rationale
of the budget 2005-6 in response to the critical approach of the
opposition in the National Assembly, said that the budget was aiming at
the welfare of the people as well as strengthening the institutions of
He made a passionate appeal to the opposition to
extend help and cooperate with the government in this gigantic but noble
He also called on the President before he left for a
week-long tour of Australia and New Zealand, met the ruling party chief
Ch. Shujat Hussain and NWFP Governor, besides meeting an EU
parliamentarian, a Pakistani expatriate, and inaugurated an exhibition
of photographs organized by the Chairman Jammu & Kashmir Liberation
Front, Yasin Malik, in Islamabad. On a personal letter received from a
member of his cabinet, Zubaida Jalal, from Balochistan, the Prime
Minister ordered a probe into irregularities allegedly committed in the
allotment of state land in Gwadar. He also inaugurated the first-ever
solar energy plant at a village near Islamabad on Sunday last.
In his lengthy and forceful speech in the National
Assembly, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz declared that the edifice of a
strong and prosperous Pakistan is being consolidated on the bases of
economic strength, viable foreign policy and credible defence. These are
the cornerstones for the security and sovereignty of the country and the
government is committed to provide all resources to make the defence
impregnable. He said peace can only be achieved through a credible
defence and strength. Pakistan is a declared nuclear state and no one
can cast an evil eye on it, he declared.
The government is working on a single point agenda
i.e to make Pakistan vibrant and strong in all fields. He said that with
continuous efforts we have now been able to maintain economic
sovereignty. He expressed satisfaction that the government had been able
to present to people, growers, investors and traders a friendly budget.
He said, "our efforts would continue to move forward the economy
with full speed", and expressed the confidence that time is not far
away when Pakistan would be a leading country in Asia.
The Prime Minister said Pakistan was now being
appreciated by the international community as a country moving forward
on the path of growth and stability. The government is determined to
sustain the level of economic growth to ensure development and progress
of the people and the country. All parties should take part in the
national development by setting aside their political differences, he
said, urging the opposition to give concrete suggestions for further
improving the economy and avoid unnecessary criticism. He said, "we
have seen IMF off forever and time will never come for its return to
Pakistan as we are standing on our feet with complete economic
sovereignty". We have closed the chapter of taking expensive loans
from the financial institutions, he added.
The Prime Minister said Pakistan was taking loans
from the international financial market but these are being taken only
for the purpose of development and no one would be allowed to usurp
these loans. It is for the first time that the government has enacted
legislation to check foreign loans. Turning towards development, the
Prime Minister said, it is pertinent to note that the government has
announced a historic and record three hundred and six billion rupees
development budget. Under this, the provinces and Tribal Areas would get
more resources for the socio-economic development of the people.
The Prime Minister said special attention has been
paid on the improvement of energy sector and announced that 13,000
villages would be electrified during the next financial year. It is also
for the first time that a special programme is being launched to ensure
provision of clean potable drinking water and pilot projects would be
launched at Union Council level, he said and added that every citizen
would be provided clean and safe water by the year 2007.
He said that a special programme to control hepatitis
is also being launched to combat this deadly disease. Referring to the
visit of President Pervez Musharraf to Australia and New Zealand, the
Prime Minister said we could seek their technical assistance for dairy
development to bring white revolution in the country. Concrete measure
have been taken in the new budget to give a boost to agriculture sector
and uplift the growers' community. He announced that the House Building
Finance Corporation would be restructured to facilitate the common man
so that he could easily construct his own house.
Talking about price hike and inflation, Shaukat Aziz
said the main reason for this is continuous price hike of oil prices in
the international market and the government has to pay fifty billion
rupees subsidy on oil imports. However, he said tangible steps are being
taken to control price hike and bring down the prices of essential
commodities. Turning to the privatization process he said the process is
moving forward in the right direction which has been beneficial to the
country and people and these institutions which were running into losses
have now become vibrant.
He said global situation has been changed and the
whole world is moving towards free economy, which is essential for
economic progress and employment generation. He announced that the
government would make all policies keeping in view the national agenda
and would never victimize any segment. He referred to the unprecedented
press freedom ensured in the country and urged the media to make
constructive criticism and give positive suggestions for good governance
and national development. Shaukat Aziz said that despite tremendous
economic growth we still have a number of challenges to face. These
include unemployment, poverty alleviation, further improvement of law
and order and speeding up development process. He thanked the members of
the National Assembly and the Senate, particularly the opposition, for
giving positive suggestions for the improvement of economy. The Prime
Minister said Pakistan is an Islamic country and it has a leading role
to play for the progress of the Muslim Ummah. He said strong Pakistan is
in the interest of whole Ummah, which could help protect its interests.
"We are standing on our feet with complete
economic sovereignty. We have closed the chapter of taking expensive
loans from the financial institutions. We are taking loans for
development purpose, not for self aggrandizement as was the practice of
previous governments". The Prime Minister said it is the first time
that the government has enacted laws to check foreign loans. "Under
the law, limit for the foreign loans has been fixed and whenever the
government wants to take a loan, it would have to seek the permission
from the parliament , he added.
Referring to Musharraf's visit to Australia and New
Zealand, the prime minister said that we could seek technical assistance
from those countries for dairy development to bring white revolution in
the country. "Concrete measures have been taken in the new budget
to give a boost to the agriculture sector and uplift the grower's
community," he said. The Prime Minister gave the assurance that
nobody will be allowed to use state machinery for political
victimization. Life, honour and property of the people irrespective of
their political affiliations will also be protected, he declared in the
National Assembly on Friday.
Inaugurating the photographic exhibition the Prime
Minster said Pakistan wants peaceful solution of Kashmir issue according
to the wishes and aspirations of Kashmiri people and Kashmiris are bound
to get their freedom soon. Besides Kashmiri leaders, Federal Minister
for Information and Broadcasting Sheikh Rashid Ahmad and PML Secretary
General Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed were present on the occasion. A
large number of people and human rights activists also visited the
The Prime Minister said that throughout the long
struggle of Kashmiri people, Pakistan has provided full political, moral
and diplomatic support to them. He said that human rights violations are
continuing unabated in occupied Kashmir and Pakistan continues to seek
peaceful and just solution of the problem. He said that President
General Pervez Musharraf also talked to the Indian leadership in Delhi
about the peaceful solution of the Kashmir issue. He said that Pakistan
wants to see Kashmiri people enjoy full freedom, peace and prosperity.
The Prime Minister said, "we are all part of Kashmir struggle and
the solution of Kashmir issue is not a simple race but a marathon which
we must cover together".
About photographs displayed in the exhibition, the
prime minister said that these are not just photographs but they carry a
message. Every eye and every face in the photographs rendered the
message of peace and freedom, he said.
Talking to Mr. Sayyed A Karim, a Pakistani by origin
and a member of European Parliament, on Friday, the Prime Minister urged
the overseas Pakistanis to invest in Pakistan as the country's
investment climate has significantly improved owing to the government's
recent reforms. He said Pakistan has achieved a growth rate of 8.4% and
was amongst the top five Asian countries in terms of growth. Pakistan
has an open economy and an enabling environment has been created by
pursuing a policy of privatization, de-regulation and liberalization, so
that investors can operate without any restriction. Pakistan would
welcome and encourage investors from Europe, he said and assured them of
all possible assistance.
Talking to Governor NWFP, the Prime Minister assured
him that the NFC will be finalized in the best interest of all
stake-holders. He assured that the federal government has established
the committee to resolve this outstanding dispute for all times to come
in a just and equitable manner. The Governor NWFP appreciated the
initiative and the personal efforts of Prime Minister for setting up an
arbitrary committee for resolving the long-standing issue of net hydel
profits, which had been lingering for the last 15 years.
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz also ordered an
investigation into the irregularities regarding the allotment and sale
of state-owned land in Gwadar and sought a report on the matter from
Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Yousaf.
The probe has been ordered on the letter sent to the
Prime Minister by Zubaida Jalal, Federal Minister for Social Welfare and
Special Education. In her letter, Ms Jalal demanded that all allotments
of state-owned land in Gwadar over the last two years be cancelled.
Sources in the Prime Minister's Secretariat revealed
that Jalal, who belongs to the Kam Katch constituency of Gwadar, had
written in her letter that during her recent visit to her constituency,
a large number of people had complained about irregularities being
committed in the sale and allotment of state owned land in Gwadar
district. She wrote that in the wake of the mega projects initiated by
the federal government in the area, the land prices had skyrocketed and
as a result, there was no state-owned land left in the entire district.
She requested Aziz to direct the provincial government to cancel all
allotments, especially in the Aabad Dun, Karvat and Chatani Bal areas.
Addressing a public gathering at a village about 50
miles from the location of the first-ever solar energy project, the
Prime Minister said that the country cannot progress till collective
interests are preferred over individual gains. "The country will
make progress when we leave up personal interests and prefer the
collective approach," he added.
The Rs. 3.9 million project is being carried out by
Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) at Narian Khorian, two
villages some 50 kilometers away from its location, to provide
electricity to 100 houses with 600 population.
The assurance by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in the
National Assembly that his government will not allow the use of state
machinery against political opponents follows a series of events
involving the arrest and intimidation of members of opposition parties,
including legislators, over the past few weeks. Whatever happened to PPP
legislators Qamaruz Zaman Kaira in Gujrat and Zahid Bhurgari in
Hyderabad is condemnable. Equally shocking is the way the Punjab
Assembly speaker is suspending the membership of opposition members on
flimsy grounds, apparently on cue from the provincial chief minister.
The arrest of Jam Saqi after his attempts to investigate a rape case in
the fiefdom of the Sindh chief minister also reflects badly on how the
state's coercive apparatus is being employed against those who deviate
from the determined path.
It is against this backdrop that the prime minister's
statement on the floor of the National Assembly becomes worthy of
appreciation and may pacify the agitating opposition. However, such
promises have been made in the past as well, not just by this
government, but also by all its predecessors.
It has yet to be seen what the prime minister will do
to see how his assurance is implemented. It will not be an easy task for
him, considering that he is surrounded by a lot of politicians who may
not be believing in the principle of political tolerance and dialogue to