Culprits in factory fire to be taken to task: PM

Published February 15, 2015
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif - AFP/File
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif - AFP/File

LAHORE: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that the people involved in the Baldia Town factory fire would be taken to task no matter which political party they are affiliated with.

Addressing a meeting of the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors on Saturday, Mr Sharif said he had received the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report on the matter and needed more information. He said the report “has caused a stir in Karachi, but we will not demoralise our institutions because of it”.

He said Karachi was returning to normality due to the operation which started there in 2013. The government would not relent till the city was cleared of outlaws, he added.

Media support sought to implement National Action Plan against terrorism

The prime minister said Pakistan would welcome the Indian foreign secretary and discuss with him all issues, including the Kashmir dispute, during his proposed visit to Islamabad.

“The foreign secretary-level Pakistan-India dialogue is being revived. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked about it during his latest telephonic conversation with me,” he said.

Mr Sharif said there was no need to ask India whether the dialogue would be composite or not. “We talked a lot about Kashmir recently and this was conveyed to India. Certainly we will discuss all issues, including the Kashmir dispute.”

In reply to a question, he said the involvement of foreign hand in terrorist activities in Pakistan could not be ruled out. There was evidence of such involvement in Balochistan.

“There are apprehensions and evidence alike. Proxy war is also being fought at some places. We think that instead of exploiting such an issue politically, we should discuss it seriously. We are telling them this is neither in favour of you, us nor anyone else.”

TIES WITH KABUL: He said Pakistan-Afghanistan relations were improving and, instead of trading allegations, both were cooperating with each other.

He asked the CPNE to ponder over how to get rid of terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The prime minister earlier urged media to show maturity in reporting national security issues and support the government in implementing the National Action Plan to root out terrorism and extremism. The government was committed to eliminating terrorism and would stick to its resolve, he added.

“I believe in freedom of media, but it must set aside its (race for better) rating and business for two years and support the government and parliament (for implementing NAP and ridding the country of terrorism). The media should avoid unnecessarily criticising the government, maligning it and discouraging investment.

“Despite differences, all political leaders and military got united on the NAP. Media would also have to support it,” he said.

Nawaz Sharif asked the CPNE to devise a media code of ethics. “If we make such a code, you will blame us for muzzling media,” he said.

He said in some instances, Pakistani media was divided on issues, including Pervez Musharraf’s martial law and recent sit-ins by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek.

Mr Sharif said role of certain media houses during the sit-ins could not be appreciated. He was asked why those who talked of removal of the government were not taken to task. “We were marooned, but we did not restrain media,” he said.

During that period, he said, Pakistani currency lost Rs4 against the dollar and visits by foreign dignitaries, including that of the Chinese president, were cancelled, tarnishing the country’s image.

ENERGY CRISIS: The prime minister said his government had decided to allocate Rs100 billion every year under the Public Sector Development Programme to generate 3,600 megawatts of electricity through LNG by 2017.

He said plants like Neelum Jhelum, Nandipur and Guddu were being pursued to resolve the power crisis before the end of the present government’s term.

He said spending on the education sector would be raised from two per cent of the GDP to four per cent.

Mr Sharif said the country was facing a revenue deficit of Rs200 billion in view of the fall in oil prices.

He announced a grant of Rs50 million for journalists’ endowment fund and gave away lifetime achievement awards to senior newsmen.

Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2015

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