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No mid-term polls: Gilani

February 26, 2011

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LAHORE, Feb 26: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani says new options have opened after the PML-N’s parting ways with the Pakistan People’s Party in Punjab.

He, however, dispelled the impression that the PPP would become part of any unconstitutional move saying that there were many people who would want to join hands with the PPP. But, he said, the PPP did not believe in horse trading and would prefer to sit on opposition benches (in Punjab).

Talking to newsmen after delivering his speech at the ninth Founders’ Day at Chand Bagh School in Muridke, 30km from here, Mr Gillani said the PPP would win the next elections with a clear majority. Responding to a question about mid-term elections, he said the government would complete its term. “Since none of the four provincial governments have been able to hold local government elections as yet, it will be a distant dream to hold general elections before the expiry of the constitutional term.”

He said there was nothing like deadline or ultimatum in politics. He said the PPP would not leave its policy of “politics of reconciliation” despite the fact that Mian Nawaz Sharif had parted ways with it.

The prime minister said Pakistan was facing economic as well as law and order challenges due to terrorism and extremism and urged all parties to join hands with PPP to steer the country out of crisis.

He said the PPP, the PML-N and all other parties’ teams had discussed the PML-N economic agenda at length for no less than 200 hours and vowed that the incumbent government would complete this agenda. “I have no complaint with Nawaz Sharif if he is not satisfied with the performance of his own team led by Ishaq Dar,” he added.

Stating that he held Nawaz Sharif in great esteem, Gillani said the PML-N had left the federal cabinet at very early stages but the PPP continued to run the government along with allied parties.

The premier said the country’s economic situation was much better than in 2008, when it took over and the PML-N was also aware of this fact.

He said Pakistan’s economy had picked up as the three years’ indicators showed that its exports had increased at an unprecedented level that helped increase foreign remittances. At present, he said, country’s foreign reserves were at all time high. He said the agriculture sector had witnessed a boom as the country was now exporting wheat, while there was an acute shortage of wheat when the present government was formed. “We are in the habit of doing tough jobs and will continue doing so.”

Earlier, speaking at the Founder’s Day ceremony, Gillani said the National Education Policy had set the goals of raising the annual budgetary allocations for education to seven per cent of the GDP and increasing literacy rate to 85 per cent by 2015. He said the main thrust of the policy would be to achieve the Millennium Development Goals of Universal Primary Education by 2015. He said the syllabus of public sector schools would be improved in consultation with private sector schools to reduce disparity between the two sectors. He said the policy also envisaged a regime of strict uniform examination system as well as a special focus on gender equality and bridging the urban-rural divide.

Though education had become a purely provincial subject after the passage of the 18th constitutional amendment, he said, the federal government would continue to give policy guidelines in this regard.

He announced a first installment of Rs40 million as a contribution to Chand Bagh School’s endowment fund. He also presented medals to the position-holders in curricular and co-curricular activities.

Chand Bagh School Principal Col Syed Nusrat Ali Shah Kazmi (retired) also spoke on the occasion.