Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz announced three major
policy decisions/initiatives of his government at various public forums
during his busy schedule last week. Following a presentation by the
National Highway Authority the Prime Minister approved the construction
of Motorway linking Faisalabad & Karachi, besides talking to AGN
Abbasi, Chairman Technical Committee on Water Resources who presented
committees report strongly recommending construction of big dams and
water reservoirs. The PM said that the government would sincerely follow
the recommendations and construction work on at least one big water
reservoir that would start during the current year. Addressing a press
conference in Lahore he categorically announced that Pakistan was
opposed to any action against Iran for pursuing its peaceful nuclear
The most significant action taken by the Prime
Minster during last week with regard to the ongoing tussle between the
stockbrokers and the Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP)
was the replacement of Badla financing with Margin financing. The new
set of rules, Continuous Funding System (CFS) introduced by the PM from
next working day proved highly effective and KSE gained 600 points in
the next few days.
Besides, he met a delegation of Sarhad Chamber of
Commerce & Industry (SCCI), and hosted a dinner in honour of the
Executive Council of Association of Asian Parliaments for Peace (AAPP).
He also held a meeting with IMF Executive Director, and met the media
delegation from Malaysia.
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz approved in principle the
construction of Faisalabad-Karachi Motorway as part of the government's
policy to improve and expand existing infrastructure and strengthen the
North-South corridor to augment the growing needs of the economy as well
as its future requirements.
He was given a presentation by the Chairman National
Highway Authority (NHA), Maj. Gen. Farrukh Javed on national highways
and motorways in the country at the Prime Minister House. The Prime
Minister said that with high economic growth, Pakistan needs a
world-class logistic chain, which will include a controlled access
motorway linking Faisalabad with Karachi. Motorway between Peshawar and
Rawalpindi is under rapid construction, while the motorway linking
Rawalpindi to Lahore and Faisalabad is already in operation.
Dilating upon the importance of an effective and
reliable road network for accelerating the pace of economic development
in the country, the Prime Minster asked the NHA to explore the right
corridor as per requirements of the country. He also directed NHA that
the present Grand Trunk (GT) Road be developed into a better quality
road for providing improved access not only to the people but also for
goods and services.
There can certainly be no disputing the Prime
Minister's contention that Pakistan needs a world class logistic chain,
which includes a controlled access motorway linking Faisalabad with
Karachi, the two major business centers, as strategically located in the
north and south of the country. As he rightly pointed out, the motorway
between Peshawar and Rawalpindi being under construction and the one
linking Rawalpindi with Lahore and Faisalabad being already there, the
idea of creating a link between Karachi and Faisalabad will appear to be
rather belated. But, as the popular saying goes, better late than never,
the decision will be widely welcomed.
Talking to AGN Abbasi, the Prime Minister said, water
security was extremely critical for future growth and development of
Pakistan and required construction of storage and distribution
infrastructure. Availability of water was critical for economic
development, employment in rural areas and raising the quality of lives
of the people, he said.
The Prime Minister, assuring equitable distribution
of water, called for enhancing water storage facility to meet the demand
and overcome the capacity loss due to the prevailing situation in the
existing reservoirs. The Prime Minister said two-third areas were
depending on agriculture and the availability of irrigation water was
critical for their economic development, adding that the government
would take all necessary measures in this regard. The Prime Minister
thanked the Chairman for the hard work put in by his team for addressing
a major issue of water availability.
The Technical Committee on Water Resources (ECWR), in
its report to the Prime Minister, recommended that the construction of
water reservoirs was necessary for surplus water to meet the irrigation
needs of the country. The committee, comprising eight members, two from
each province, submitted its recommendations after detailed discussions
with all the stakeholders, covering all aspects of the terms of
reference over a period of one-and-a-half years. Abbasi said the
committee presented all its submissions, along with the documents
following deliberations with representatives of the provinces,
government officials' experts and the public.
Addressing a press conference, he said Pakistan will
never support any military action on Iran with a view to destroy its
nuclear facilities. Pakistan enjoys very cordial and friendly relations
with its western neighbour and the two countries are in constant touch
with each other on regional issues including that of Iran's nuclear
capabilities, he added. He expressed the hope that initiative taken by
the European countries to resolve the Iranian nuclear question would
prove successful. The Prime Minister emphasized that all matters
relating to that country's nuclear issue must be resolved through
Highlighting bonds of strong and close friendship
between China and Pakistan, he said relations between the two countries
were growing in strength with the each passing day. "These
relations are moving ahead on strong basis in every sphere of
socio-economic and defence areas," he added. Shaukat Aziz said
Pakistan was supportive of reforms in the United Nations but was not in
favour of increasing the number of permanent members. "Instead we
want the number of non-permanent members to be raised to provide maximum
representation to countries in the most important organ of the world
Talking to 25-member delegation of Sarhad Chamber of
Commerce and Industry, which called on him at the Prime Minister House,
Shaukat Aziz said the government was providing necessary infrastructure
facilities to the business community. Describing the private sector as
an engine of growth, he said that the government was taking steps to
ensure conducive environment for business to flourish. He informed the
delegation that a feasibility study of setting up a dry port in Peshawar
was underway to exploit business potential of the province.
Speaking at the dinner hosted by him in honour of
AAPP, Prime Minister said Pakistan's commitment to combat terrorism was
firm and unwavering, but called for adopting a holistic approach to
address its root causes. He said Pakistan itself has been a victim of
terrorism for over two decades. "We have been engaged in counter
terrorism cooperation with the international community much before
9/11," he said, adding that there can be no justification for
terrorism, but we are opposed to any attempt that seeks to draw a
linkage between terrorism and Islam or a particular country."
He said: "Terrorism has no religion and is a
universal scourge. Blaming a particular religion or a country shall not
bring us any closer to a victory against terrorists." He added that
a successful strategy requires a holistic approach of addressing the
root causes of terrorism.
Talking to Mr. Abbas Mirakhor, Executive Director IMF,
the Prime Minister said that Pakistan's economy is on the path of high
growth and the government is striving to pass on the benefits to the
common man by creating more employment opportunities, curbing inflation
and developing infrastructure.
Shaukat Aziz said Pakistan appreciates the Fund for
extending support to the country in the past and hoped that the Fund
would now focus on extending the support to sustain the high growth. The
structural reforms agenda being pursued by the government has improved
macro economic fundamentals, the Prime Minister said, adding that the
IMF programme helped Pakistan implement its "home grown reforms
agenda". Pakistan no longer needs IMF programme now as it is
pursuing its economic policies in line with its own development
priorities, he declared.
Talking to a Malaysian media delegation, the Prime
Minister said Pakistan wants peace with all the countries including its
neighbours. The media delegation from Malaysia comprised representatives
of Malaysian newspapers and news agencies. Giving a brief overview of
the foreign policy, the Prime Minister said Pakistan enjoys good
relations with all the countries. He said Pakistan enjoys strategic
relations with China and also has close relations with Iran and
negotiating a gas pipeline project with it. Besides, Pakistan has close
ties with Afghanistan and extending all possible help in its
reconstruction, he added.
Talking about India, the Prime Minister said Pakistan
has started a composite dialogue process for resolving all outstanding
issues including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir. He said the peace
process is irreversible and expressed the hope that there will be
progress in the relations between the two countries when President
Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will meet in New York next
Shaukat Aziz said the Kashmir issue can only be
solved if both sides show flexibility, magnanimity and courage.
"The Kashmir issue should be resolved in line with the wishes and
aspirations of the Kashmir people," he added. The Prime Minister
said Pakistan achieved a growth rate of 8.4% and attracted highest
amount of foreign direct investment last year. The middle class is
increasing and manufacturing and exports had showed an upsurge, he
Talking to the outgoing Ambassador of Bosnia Avdo
Abdul Lah Hodzic at the PM House, Shaukat Aziz said the misperceptions
against Islam need to be removed, adding that the Muslim Ummah must
stand united to fight the scourge of global terrorism.
In this regard, he said, the Organization of Islamic
Conference needs to be made more effective and vibrant. He said Islam is
a religion of tolerance and preaches interfaith harmony and abhors
violence, extremism and sectarianism. Rejecting the theory of clash of
civilizations, he said Islam can be adapted to the changing times,
without compromising on its basic tenets.
The Prime Minster referred to the concept of
"Enlightened Moderation", and said it was aimed at removing
any misperceptions against Islam. He said Bosnia being a Muslim country
in Europe can do a lot by projecting the true image of Islam.
The Bosnian ambassador was appreciative of the
Pakistan government for waiving the US $200million export credit, as
well as sending a substantial number of troops to UN peacekeeping force
and the hospitality extended to him during his stay.