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Shujaat rules out Kargil investigation

July 19, 2004

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LAHORE, July 18: Prime Minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain on Sunday categorically rejected a PML-N demand for the formation of a judicial commission to investigate the Kargil episode, saying that such a step would amount to opening a Pandora's Box.

Talking to reporters after addressing a meeting of PML leaders and workers at his residence, the prime minister said whatever had happened in the Kargil sector was the 'collective responsibility' of the Nawaz Sharif government.

He said that as army chief Gen Pervez Musharraf had kept the then prime minister fully informed about what was happening in Kargil, and any assertion to the contrary would be baseless.

He recalled that at a meeting Gen Musharraf had told Mr Sharif the dates, the days and even the time when he had informed the latter about the situation in Kargil. But when the meeting ended, Mr Sharif remarked that he had not been given details.

The prime minister said a judicial commission could not to go beyond collecting evidence and what he was telling the media was an eye-witness account. Before making any demand for such a probe body, he said, let somebody challenge his information.

"There's no need for a judicial commission," said the prime minister, who was interior minister at the time of the Kargil conflict. Mr Hussain said that development schemes planned for all constituencies would now be called welfare projects and carried out in consultation with the lawmakers of the ruling party.

Areas where the PML did not have elected representatives would also be covered by the ruling party, he added. To give a greater say to the PML legislators, the prime minister said recruitments for all overseas jobs in the government sector would be made by the MNAs and the MPAs.

However, recruitments for vacancies in the private sector advertized by various countries would be left to the employment promoters. The prime minister held out an assurance that no ruling party legislator would charge a job-seeker even a single penny and the entire process would be completed in a transparent manner.

Mr Hussain said President Musharraf was very keen to see the PML flourish. He disclosed that at a meeting the president had proposed that credit for all development schemes to be completed during the PML rule should go to the party, not to individuals, as had been the practice so far.

However, the prime minister said, he had told the president that plaques should also mention the names of legislators who had played a role in those projects. The prime minister said he was setting up committees on 20 different subjects, all to be manned by PML office-bearers, which would take all policy decisions.

He believed that steps taken by the PML would win it popular support and in the next elections it would get a two-thirds majority in parliament. In response to a question, the prime minister said he wanted all parties, including those in opposition, to take a joint stand on issues of national importance. He said a policy of consensus was followed in all important countries and Pakistan should also follow suit.

Answering another question, he said in talks with the ruling party, the MMA Secretary-General Maulana Fazlur Rehman had given an assurance that he would attend the National Security Council meetings. However, in parliament the religious parties alliance was free to follow an independent policy.

Asked if the NWFP chief minister would attend the future NSC meetings, the prime minister did not come up with a clear response. He said he had asked Maulana Fazl to honour his word.

The NWFP chief minister, like Maulana Fazlur Rehman, had abstained from the first NSC meeting and President Musharraf had taken a serious notice of his absence. Later, Chaudhry Shujaat had arranged a meeting of Mr Akram Durrani with President Musharraf.

The prime minister said he was taking all decisions in the larger national interest. He disclosed that he had turned down some proposals made by the governments of Punjab and Sindh because he did not agree with them. However, he did not give any detail about those proposals.

Chaudhry Shujaat said that during his first visit to his native city, his electorates had demanded a package to make Gujrat a model city. But, he said, he told his supporters not to press the demand till he was the country's chief executive. He said before turning Gujrat into a model city, he would like to become a model prime minister.

He said in the past all prime ministers had diverted funds to their constituencies. But, he said, he wanted to take decisions best suited for the entire country, not a particular constituency. Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi was present when the prime minister was answering questions.