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—File Photo.
—File Photo.

ISLAMABAD: The new government moved to smother speculation about the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline on Saturday, with a minister asserting that the country needed to lap up the commodity from “wherever it comes, whether from Iran or the Arabian Sea”.

“We will continue the work at the gas pipeline because such a vital project cannot be set aside in hard times like the present,” Ahsan Iqbal, the Federal Minister for Planning, said.

Certain quarters had expressed fears about the fate of the pipeline because of the ruling PML-N’s close ties with the Saudis.

Talking to journalists after a meeting with officials of the Planning Commission, Mr Iqbal said: “Energy is our first, second and third top priority. Electricity is no longer a mere commodity now; it is a necessity and lifeline.”

Taking charge of the same department after 14 years, Mr Iqbal said the PML-N government had presented a “vision 2010” in 1998, but this time it would be limiting its goals to five years. A “vision 2018” will be launched soon after presentation of the federal budget, the minister added.

As the Planning Commission has been upgraded by the new government, Mr Iqbal said the planning division would also be monitoring projects to ensure their completion within the stipulated time and budget.

“As the government machinery is rusty and worthless, it is imperative to have a department to oversee the execution of projects.”

Regarding his own ministry, he said the planning and development division would be made a model for other ministries.

“We will implement e-government here and within one year the planning division will move to paperless working, while efficient human resource will be rewarded,” he said.

Ahsan Iqbal highlighted the priority areas of the government — improving tax collection by plugging loopholes and broadening the tax base.

“We want to raise the tax-to-GDP ratio from 9.5 per cent to 14 per cent before the term of our government ends.”

He said the government would encourage local as well as foreign investment. “We do not want foreign grants from friendly countries, but we want them to invest here.”

The minister played down the importance of remittances as a reliable source of money, saying that it was an unproductive venture. “The inflows from this sector would stop if Pakistanis started returning home in droves or stopped sending money back home.”

Mr Iqbal said the PML-N government had a zero tolerance policy for corruption and efforts would be made to strengthen NAB, FIA, Public Accounts Committee and other departments supposed to fight white-collar crime.

“The most unfortunate part of the previous government was that corrupt officials were assigned key posts in these crime fighting departments, but we will ensure that officers with good track record are given the right posting,” he said.

Ministers take charge

Although Saturday was a weekly holiday, a number of new ministers took charge on the directive of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the morning by arriving at their offices at around 8am.

Many officials were seen rushing to their offices a few minutes after 8am, asking security personnel if the minister had arrived.

Some of the ministers held a brief chat with newsmen before going to their offices.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that terrorism was the greatest challenge the nation had been facing and the new government would take steps to improve law and order to provide relief to people.

He declared that his working would be different from the previous minister and he would not poke his nose in every matter.

Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif brushed aside high hopes regarding elimination of loadshedding that many had pinned with the arrival of new government.

“It will take many years to overcome this menace — but we will surely bring it to bearable limits,” he said.

Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said as the new government had taken charge, now people would feel a positive change.

“After domestic and commercial users the power sector is the top most priority as long as gas supply is concerned.

Comments (14) Closed

Yawar Jun 09, 2013 08:51am

And what will be done to keep anti-state elements from blowing the pipeline?

Musa Ali Khan Jun 09, 2013 10:43am

If the new government has real regards for Pakistan he would work on the IRAN Pak gaseline

Shahid Hussain Jun 09, 2013 12:55pm

Sorry majority of teh Fedral Ministers are above 50 years some of them are 80+ like Sartaj Aziz the average age of Minsters is 60+ cant we have better qualified administartor instead of Politicians who will be diriven by smart burecrates and will have no clue what is happening. A tpical example is of Chief E;ection Commisioner Mr. Fakhrudin G Ibrahim he is 80+ and have no clue what has happeining he was in his own world.
I dont think with this simi;lar old faces who have been tried in previous tenure of pML (N) and Musharraf PML (Q) can they deliver when they a=were unable to deliver earlier. Also note that the new Govt cam einto power with a pror arrangments of Foriegn Powers the time will tell as recent incidents of removal of NAP can PML (N) will appoint NAB Chairman of oic eof PPP if teh same rules apply. we are in mess and will remain in the mess unless teh face changes get rid of old Politicians we s hould have aretirement age for Politicians as well.

mir saifullah Jun 09, 2013 02:24pm

Is planning minister having any program to hire experienced and qualified personnel like engineers of all diciplines to support the projects progress in a professional manner.

S. A. M. Jun 09, 2013 04:58pm

Sounds good.

Saad(DXB) Jun 09, 2013 06:32pm

Wow... and I always thought the land of fantasies aka 'Disney Land' was in the US

Syed Jun 09, 2013 07:11pm

This is a big test of government. We wish and hope of the success of the government. There is no room for mistake. The time will tell that it was all rheotaric or they really meant it.

Salim Akbani Jun 09, 2013 07:18pm

If they deliver half of what they are promising, they will get re-elected.

Muhammad Awais Jun 09, 2013 08:14pm

PML N has eligible people of ministries, they had made many promises before the election and now they are saying that pakistan lies in great emptiness in every respect. They had to accomplish things made by them.

Manish Gupte, PhD Jun 10, 2013 02:20am

Trade is much better than foreign aid! Trade creates work! It creates wealth in peace and war means poverty. So less war.

Amin Kalimuddin Jun 10, 2013 03:37am

I hope it is not a BS but they will do it against all odds.

Keti Zilgish Jun 10, 2013 06:41am

The energy crisis in Pakistan is deliberately triggered by our destructive car mania. See a book called "Stop Signs: Cars & Capitalism." You could also read about Hasselt (Belgium) & Ockelbo, Sweden at

Jalaluddin S. Hussain Jun 10, 2013 07:57am

It is easier said than done!

gulzar Jun 11, 2013 06:09pm

@Salim Akbani: if they try for they are saying they will be re elected, but as usual they will try for some thing else.