Sep 26 - Oct 02, 2005


Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has categorically assured the nation that the present assemblies would complete their tenure and that there was no move to introduce presidential system in the country.

This clarification was timely and necessary as such rumours being fanned by certain quarters are tend to create a sense of instability affecting investors' confidence, besides leaving a negative impact on the economy.

Besides holding a press conference to offset certain false impressions stemmed from rumors, the Prime Minister, during the last week, visited Balochistan and laid the foundation stone of Gwadar Industrial Estate, had a meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada who was on an official visit to Pakistan, chaired an informal meeting of National Finance Commission (NFC) in a bid to resolve the differences on the 6th award, launched the Pakistan Plan of Action to implement SAARAC Social Charter, told a TV channel in an interview that the nuclear power generation program was moving fast, received a delegation from his constituency (Attock), met PML Chief Ch. Shujaat Hussain for exchange of views on general political situation specially the ongoing development program in Balochistan, and met a delegation of Thai businessmen.

Addressing a press conference at his parliament chamber Shaukat Aziz said that the democratic system in the country is working well and there was no confrontation between the treasury and the opposition on any issue. The government wants a congenial atmosphere in the Parliament to run the affairs of the country in a positive way, he added.

Brushing aside the impression that Prime Minister was taking the charge of presidentship of the Pakistan Muslim League, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz made it clear that the party members were asking him to become party president but he would not do so. "Parliament will complete its term and there is no plan to make changes in the assemblies," he said.

He said that PML was united under the leadership of Ch. Shujaat Hussain and we were working happily under the guidance of the party president. The government was committed to run the country in a democratic way, therefore, it was initiating dialogue process with opposition to create consensus among the opposition and treasury benches. The call of the strike made by the opposition had failed to draw response from the people and it has exposed opposition's confidence before the masses, the PM said.

He said the government was committed to improve the living standard of the masses and country's economic situation and in this regard it was establishing vocational training institutions, which would impart technical education. He denied legitimizing Israel as sovereign and independent state and said that Pakistan's stance on Palestine has not changed even after their Foreign Ministers' meeting in Istanbul. He said that there was no question to establish trade links with Israel unless the Palestine issue is resolved. Pakistan wants peace in the world especially in South Asia so it was holding dialogue with India. In this regard, President Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met in New York to ease the tension between Pakistan and India, he said. "Kashmir is the core issue between Pakistan and India and we are confident that India is interested to resolve the issue," he added.

The Prime Minister said the dialogue process will continue when Manmohan Singh visits Pakistan and he meets the Indian leadership at Shanghai, SAARC conference and Commonwealth Summit. "Through these engagements we hope to keep on moving towards our goal of finding solution to the mutual problems," he said.

About the election of the Deputy Chairman Senate, Shaukat Aziz said it will be held very soon, however, he did not give any definite date in this regard. The post of Deputy Chairman Senate is lying vacant since Commander Khalil-ur-Rehman was made the Governor of NWFP. He said the opposition in the Senate was not justified in protesting and calling the proceedings illegal in the absence of the Chairman or his deputy. Wasim Sajjad, Leader of the House in Senate, has given a very comprehensive answer to opposition's apprehensions about the house proceedings, he said.

Speaking as chief guest at the foundation stone laying ceremony of Gwadar Industrial estate, Prime Minister announced that the government has decided to construct a new international airport at Gwadar with state-of-the-art facilities and according to the world-class standard. Till the completion of the new international airport the existing airport is being upgraded, and necessary facilities were being provided so that there could be frequent communication between Karachi and Gwadar. Gwadar will not only be an industrial hub, but will also attract tourists since it has great potential for tourism.

He said that this is a historic day and pointed out that six years ago when President General Pervez Musharraf took over the power he saw a dream of making a world class port in Gwadar and added: "today we are seeing this dream becoming a reality". The President took up the matter of building Gwadar port with Prime Minister of China who readily agreed to the proposal, so this port is a gift of China. The Prime Minister said that the seaports change the destiny of regions and countries.

He pointed out that six years ago, the President promised roads for Gwadar and that promise has been fulfilled with the construction of Coastal Highway which goes up to north and shall be a crucial link for Afghanistan and Central Asia. He said, "We have to open our minds and allow foreign investors to come up with their investment which will usher in an era of prosperity and help create employment opportunities". He said, in case the local skilled labour was not available we should welcome with open-heart skilled people from other regions for development, progress and prosperity of Gwadar, which is not only in the interest of the people of Gwadar and Balochistan, but also in the interest of Pakistan.

Shaukat Aziz announced that the federal government will establish Export Processing Zone in Gwadar on fast tack basis and will extend Coastal Highway up to Iran to promote trade and commerce with it. In this connection, he said that import of gas from Iran will transform Balochistan and a decision on gas pipeline project with Iran after consideration of all aspects will be made in the national interest.

In his speech at the ceremony the Prime Minister said that the federal government was spending a record Rs. 134 billion on mega projects for development in Balochistan. "This has never happened in the history of Balochistan that such mega projects were ever carried out in the province," Shaukat Aziz noted amid applause.

Addressing the launching ceremony of Pakistan Plan of Action to implement SAARC Social Charter, the Prime Minister said Pakistan is committed to promote regional and multi-lateral cooperation having an objective to upscale the living standards of its people.

The action plan reviews major social issues relevant to SAARC Social Charter and presents a corresponding national action plan to address them. This plan is in consistence with the SAARC Plan of Action on Poverty Alleviation adopted by the SAARC ministers of Finance and Planning.

The Prime Minister said the South Asian region, which consists of one-fifth of the world population has great potential to grow and SAARC can play a vital role to make this region a true developed area. SAARC needs to be re-energized and be taken more seriously to make it a vibrant and effective organization working for the progress and prosperity of its peoples, he added.

Pakistan, the Prime Minister said, is playing a vital role for promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the region and global level because of its strategic location. Pakistan, for this purpose, has initiated a composite dialogue with India to ensure durable peace in the region that will allow us to dedicate more resources to the social sectors and infrastructure, besides facilitating the flow of investment that would help reduce unemployment and raising income level of our people.

Mr. Shaukat Aziz said Pakistan is also committed to follow the SAARC Action Plan and its Charter to meet the goals set by it to improve the quality of life of the people. He referred to the government efforts to reform economy and reduce poverty by improving governance and implementing development plan in various sectors and said all indications show that poverty has been arrested and hoped that it will come down at the level of 13 percent by 2015.

Resolution of Kashmir issue remains vital for making the SAARC a proactive organization, which has the capacity to resolve regional issues through dialogue and mutual understanding. "It is believed that by working together and sharing information, we can help develop the whole region on sustainable basis." The developments of the recent past are enough to show that there is strong willingness to promote cooperation at the regional level. Even the traditional foes, Pakistan and India, enjoy unprecedented good relations which is a vindication of the fact that so far as the general people are concerned they see the interest associated with promotion of peace and stability in the region, he said.

Prime Minister met the provincial finance ministers and members of the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award and discussed with them the broad guidelines for an amicable settlement of the Award. During the meeting held at the PM House, he said the federal government desired that the resources be distributed in equitable manner so that the pace of development is accelerated and the provinces have adequate resources at their disposal to meet developing and recurring needs. This has to be accompanied by good governance and better implementation of development projects to achieve the desired results, he said, adding that major focus of the government was on provision of basic necessities of life like electricity, gas and clean drinking water to the people in addition to improving the infrastructure, especially roads and highways.

Talking to Deputy Prime Minister of Canada Ms. Anne McLellan, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said that Pakistan is committed to the composite dialogue process with India and resolving all outstanding issues through dialogue including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir. The two leaders also discussed matters regarding peace and security and ways and means to enhance trade and economic ties between the two countries. They also discussed the need for a free trade agreement to expand the economic relations.

The Prime Minster said that economic reforms carried out by Pakistan during the last few years have made the country one of the most open economies in the region where investors can do business without any restrictions. He said Pakistan would welcome Canadian investment and economic cooperation in the areas of power generation, telecommunications, infrastructure, mining and exploration.

Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan said Pakistan and Canada have a long-standing relationship and would continue to cooperate in all areas to further strengthen their ties. She said Canada through its international aid agency CIDA was playing an important role in Pakistan and the two leaders discussed how to enhance that relationship in the years to come. McLellan said Pakistan and Canada have trade, security and communal links based on strong personal relationship. She said Pakistan is a very important country not only in the world but particularly in this region, and added "we want to work with Pakistani government and its people on many fronts". She appreciated President Pervez Musharraf's commitment in fighting the war against terrorism. She said dealing with terrorism was a global challenge and appreciated President Musharraf's very strong statements in terms of his participation in the war against terrorism.

In an interview to a private TV Channel, Prime Minister said Pakistan was fast moving ahead on its programme of peaceful use of nuclear technology for power generation to meet the country's growing energy needs. "Our nuclear programme for power generation is moving at a fast pace and there will be further expansion in it," he added. He said that Pakistan plans to add 8,800 megawatts of electricity by 030 through nuclear energy as domestic and industrial demand for power continues to rise. Pakistan got assistance from China for producing electricity through nuclear energy and would also approach other countries including the United States in this regard.

Responding to a question, the Prime Minister said water was a national problem and the decision on the construction of dams would be taken by taking the people into confidence. He said the report submitted by AGN Abbasi Commission was being reviewed after which a decision would be taken, adding, that the rights of provinces would be ensured.

Talking to the delegation of Thai investors interested in Agri business, Prime Minister said there was a tremendous potential for investment in poultry, fisheries, livestock, pesticides and fertilizer sectors as Pakistan has a very vast agriculture base. Pakistan is one of the few countries where there is no distinction between domestic and foreign investors, he added.