ISLAMABAD, Jan 13: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Tuesday the government was carefully examining the ‘information’ about the Mumbai terror attacks received last week and was prepared to cooperate with India to uncover facts.
In a policy statement made in the National Assembly, he said that Pakistan would share with India results of its own investigation in due course of time.
He said India had not provided any evidence, just information. “All that has been received from India is some information. I say information because these are not evidence.”
The prime minister said the information received on January 5 needed to be carefully examined and had been sent to the ministry of interior for necessary investigation in accordance with the country’s law.
He regretted that India had not responded to Pakistan’s proposal for a joint investigation. “I hope they will see merit in it and accept a joint inquiry. Serious, sustained and pragmatic cooperation is the way forward,” he remarked.
Mr Gilani said Pakistan condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and was among the first to condemn the Mumbai attacks.
Clarifying his remarks about US Vice President-elect Joe Biden’s role in forcing former president Pervez Musharraf to quit his army post, the prime minister said that top political leaders, including PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif and PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, were present at the residence of Saudi Ambassador Ali Awadh Asseri and he told them that his remarks had been misunderstood. “I said Joe Biden is pro-Pakistan,” he said, adding that it was Mr Biden who had introduced the Biden-Lugar Bill.
He said the US Foreign Relations Committee had asked many questions when he visited the United States before elections in Pakistan. He said the committee, headed by Joe Biden, had assured him that it would work to ensure restoration of democracy in Pakistan. It had also said that the two former prime ministers of Pakistan, who were in exile at that time, must be allowed to contest the elections. Mr Biden was in Pakistan at the time of the elections, he added.
Mr Gilani said it was the political sagacity of Benazir Bhutto that forced Musharraf to doff his uniform. He said he had not criticised any political leader and noted that every party had a role.
Earlier, Ayaz Amir of the PML-N objected to the award of Hilal-i-Pakistan to Joe Biden for being instrumental in persuading Gen Musharraf to take off his uniform. “Why did the Americans, who were godfathers of the previous government, decide for a change?” he asked.
He said Musharraf had unlawfully dismissed Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and other judges and crushed the lawyers’ movement.
Adviser to Prime Minister on Interior Rehman Malik said that Ashura had passed peacefully because of the cooperation of religious leaders. Responding to a point of order, he said the government had held meetings with scholars and ulema from all schools of thought and an agreement had been reached to ensure sectarian harmony during Muharram.
About clashes in Hangu, he said that army had been deployed to maintain peace in the area.
Food and Agriculture Minister Nazar Mohammad Gondal said the government would procure wheat at Rs950 per 40kg from farmers across the country. He said that payment for rice already procured would be made soon. “We are in contact with the finance ministry and provincial governments to ensure early payment.”
Chairperson of the Benazir Income Support Programme Farzana Raja said that four women registration centres would be operational in tribal areas by the end of this month. She said a centre had been set up in Mardan while three others, in Charsadda, Swat and Bannu, would start functioning soon.
She said that the condition of photograph for computerised national identity cards had been waived for women in Fata.
Adviser to Prime Minister on Petroleum Dr Asim Hussain said the problem of gas loadshedding would be overcome in three years. He said that a gas exploration policy had been prepared and more than 100 wells would be drilled in one year.
He said that modalities for a gas pipeline from Iran had been discussed with Tehran and only the price formula was to be sorted out. He said Iran was demanding a very high price which, if agreed, would cost $500 million per year.