Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. — Photo by AFP

QUETTA: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has reiterated his offer of dialogue to exiled Baloch nationalist leaders and said that negotiations are the only way to resolve issues.

“We are ready to hold talks with Baloch leaders living abroad to resolve all issues of Balochistan,” he said while speaking to PPP workers at the Governor’s House here on Tuesday night.

He said the PPP government pursued the policy of reconciliation to end the politics of confrontation and tried to solve problems through dialogue. But he made it clear that the policy of reconciliation should not be taken as a sign of government’s weakness.

Mr Gilani said his government had fulfilled its promise of restoring the 1973 Constitution to its original shape by adopting the 18th and 19th amendments and giving autonomy to the provinces. He said Bangladesh was created because then East Pakistan had been denied provincial autonomy.

The prime minister said autonomy had given rights to the people of the provinces and now they were enjoying powers to use their own resources and solve their problems.

He said it was the PPP government which had implemented the NFC award after 19 years in consultation with the four provinces under which they were given more financial resources. “People will get benefits from the increased financial resources given to their provinces.”

Mr Gilani said the government believed in supremacy of law and parliament and respect for institutions. “Through constitutional amendments we have strengthened parliament and all institutions are answerable to it.”

He said terrorism was a big hurdle in the way of resolving issues and had badly affected economy and other sectors. He said the army and the government were determined to fight terrorism which had claimed thousands of lives. “The nation must unite to curb terrorism and extremism.”

Mr Gilani said Pakistan wanted cordial relations with Iran and Afghanistan. “It is our desire that peace and normalcy return to Afghanistan,” he said, adding that bullets would not solve the Afghan problem; there should be a political solution.

He said Pakistan should be given an equal role in reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan. “We are trying to convince the United States that Pakistan is an essential part of negotiations for peace in Afghanistan.”

Mr Gilani asked PPP ministers and leaders to give importance to party workers and solve their problems. He announced that five per cent of the funds allocated to senators, MNAs and MPAs would be spent through workers.

Earlier, speaking to a delegation of the Balochistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the prime minister said its representatives would be included in bilateral talks on trade with Iran and Afghanistan. “The federal government is trying to promote trade activities in Balochistan to curb terrorism and increase employment opportunities.”

He said: “One purpose of my visit to Balochistan is to listen to representatives of the people about the performance of government institutions.” He said he had ordered federal ministers to visit Balochistan once a month to resolve issues of their ministries concerned in Balochistan.


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