Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani – File Photo

CHARSADDA: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday said that strong provinces were a guarantee for a strong federation and stressed for adopting an approach to ensure provincial unity over issues of national importance.

He said the country was at a crossroads and urged the provincial governments and people to forge unity as a nation by shunning regionalism.

“It is the time to stop identifying yourselves as Punjabis, Sindhis, Pukhtuns, Seraikis and Baloch. Your identity should be as a Pakistani,” he said at the inaugural ceremony of second phase of distribution of Watan Cards in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Prime Minister Gilani said the country was facing terrorism besides confronting the challenges of massive floods and dengue epidemic.

He called for joining hands by provinces, people and political parties to resolve the problems in an effective way. He lauded the nation for braving every challenge with great courage.

He asked the political parties to avoid politicking over the issues of national importance, and said there was a need to act together for mitigating the nation’s sufferings.

Prime Minister Gilani dismissed criticism over the government's appeal to the international community for generation of funds for Sindh’s flood-hit people.

He said the request was made in view of the disaster on a larger scale, and assured that every penny of donations would be spent on the deserving.

Gilani also lauded the contribution of Frontier Constabulary personnel who had sacrificed their 'present for the future of the people'. He termed provincial Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain as a symbol of courage, who had bravely faced many challenges while countering terrorism.

Prime Minister Gilani mentioned the provision of rights to three small provinces which he said had started yielding results for the common man.

He said that according to the 7th National Finance Commission Award, the provinces had control over their finances.

He rejected the impression that politics of reconciliation was the government's weakness and said it was the best policy and had led to unanimous passage of many bills and budgets.

He said the coalition government had made great progress which even the previous governments with two-third majority failed to do.

He said the credit for abolishing the restriction on becoming prime minister for third time went to the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) that restored the 1973 Constitution to its original form.

Gilani stressed that with provincial autonomy, the problems of people would be resolved at their doorsteps.

On Watan Cards, he said Rs 40,000 were being given in second phase and said the federal and provincial governments would fulfill their commitment of providing Rs 100,000 to the deserving people.

Prime Minister Gilani announced for establishing a cadet college in Charsadda.

He announced provision of gas to the area and directed to expedite processing of Watan Cards in Sindh and other provinces.

Prime Minister Gilani was accompanied by Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Minister for States and Frontier Regions Engineer Shaukatullah and Communications Minister Dr Arbab Alamgir.

Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Barrister Masood Kausar, Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti, Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain and MNA Asma Arbab Alamgir were present.