Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani addresses during a function on the occasion of 65th Independence Day of Pakistan at Convention Center, Islamabad on Sunday. – Photo by APP

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Sunday the government had decided to release all political prisoners who were not wanted in any other crime.

In his address to the nation at an Independence Day ceremony held at the Convention Centre, he said that in light of 39 recommendations made in the Aghaz-i-Haqooq-i-Balochistan package, major changes would be brought about in constitutional, political, administrative and economic matters.

The prime minister recalled that the government had announced the package to remove grievances and sense of deprivation among the people of Balochistan. Work on the package was continuing as Baloch youths had been given relaxation in age and education so that they could get jobs, he added.

“I am ready to go to all Baloch leaders as we want to bring them into the national mainstream. A meeting of the federal cabinet was held in Balochistan recently and ministers have been instructed that one of them will visit Balochistan every week.”He said the Mund border had been opened to lessen problems of traveling.

Mr Gilani said Karachi was a victim of terrorism and the national political leadership was making efforts to restore peace in the city.He said the opinion of all stakeholders would be taken to resolve the issue on a permanent basis. A parliamentary committee was being set up which would go to Karachi on a fact-finding mission soon, he added.

Mr Gilani said democracy was guarantor of peace and prosperity and the government would continue building consensus with all political parties to resolve issues facing the country.

He said parliament was about to complete its four years and political leadership of Pakistan agreed that it would succeed in stabilising democracy, which was the solution to all problems.

The prime minister said Pakistan was faced with the challenge of terrorism but the whole nation was united to thwart the threat.

All political leaders and people were backing the government in the war against terrorism and officers and jawans of armed forces, police and law-enforcement personnel along with the civil society and administration were performing an exemplary role to end terrorism, he added.

Mr Gilani pledged that the nation would soon get rid of unannounced loadshedding because of steps taken by the government.

He said a committee headed by the finance minister would soon give suggestions to overcome the energy crisis.

“Work is continuing on Bhasha and Munda dams and it has been decided to provide necessary funds for the Thar coal project.”

Despite unfavourable conditions, 3,000 megawatts of electricity had been added to the national grid, he said.

The prime minister said the government respected decisions of the judiciary and would continue to do so.

He said the federal government, with the help of provinces, was formulating a strategy to control prices.

He said the decisions taken on the recommendations of economic experts had brought positive effects on financial health of the country.

Mr Gilani said the foreign policy was being taken ahead on the principles of peaceful co-existence and mutual harmony and understanding.

“We want to promote relations with all countries on the basis of goodwill and equality.”He said relations with China were of historic importance and friendship with it was an important pillar of the country’s foreign policy.

The prime minister said: “Pakistan wants to resolve all issues with India through process of dialogue so that both countries can get rid of blights of poverty, illiteracy and backwardness.”

He said nobody could deny the reality that Kashmir was the jugular vein of Pakistan and the international community had accepted the right of self-determination of Kashmiris.

“Pakistan will continue to provide unhindered moral, diplomatic and political support to Kashmiris so that they can get their rights,” he added.

Calling relations with the United States vital for Pakistan, he said: “We are ever ready for cooperation with our friends but we will not accept hegemony of anybody.”

Mr Gilani said: “Pakistan sincerely desires restoration of peace in Afghanistan and wants to see it as a prosperous, stable and independent country.”

He said the government wanted that foreign relations should be aimed at increasing country’s solidarity and raising national honour.

“We respect the integrity and sovereignty of other countries and expect from others that they will respect integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan. We want to make the world realise that we are a peaceful nation. The allegations of extremism and terrorism about us are baseless because we ourselves badly fell victim to extremism and terrorism,” he added.

Mr Gilani said freedom of expression was part of the PPP manifesto because it felt that the media and democracy were essential for each other.

He said constructive criticism helped the government in improving its performance.

The prime minister said the government wanted to promote literature, poetry, painting and singing in society and set up a Rs200 million fund for artistes.

He said a suggestion was under consideration to establish the National Book Museum in Islamabad.

He said instructions had been issued for setting up a cinema house, film studio and film laboratory in Islamabad on a fast track basis.

The prime minister said the government was taking necessary steps for protection of rights of minorities. Five per cent job quota had been allocated for them so that they could play an effective role in the national development, he added.—APP



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