ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has decided to convene an all parties’ conference on Balochistan.
He said that after holding a meeting with the foreign minister, the DG of ISI and the COAS on the security situation in the country, he had decided to convene the conference “as soon as possible”.
After making the announcement during an interaction with a group of journalists on Wednesday evening, Mr Gilani settled back to answer questions on issues ranging from his court case to elections, Pakistan-US relations and peace with India.
The prime minister, proud of his status as a leader who builds consensus, was only willing to talk about his past policy decisions. But he did not want to commit himself to anything which he had not discussed with others.
Hence, a decision on Balochistan is to be left to the APC “to be called soon”; his court case was in the hands of “his lawyer and his party”; and when asked about whether or not the government was going to ask the IMF for budgetary support, he suggested his finance minister was the right person to answer the question.
He said there were two issues in Balochistan, missing people and the law and order problem, relatively innocuous words to describe a rather serious crisis. He then proceeded to answer a number of questions about ‘interference’ by neighbouring countries and the United States where the Congress had recently held a hearing on the troubled province.
Dismissing the concerns, the prime minister simply said the Balochistan issue “had to be resolved internally”. In the APC, he said, all issues related to the restive province would be discussed.
When asked about alleged corruption in his government, he put the onus on the judiciary and said if there was any wrongdoing what was stopping the courts from taking notice of it. In all, four or five cases of alleged corruption on the basis of which he and his family suffered a media trial were sub judice, the prime minister said.
Starting from appointment of Adnan Khawaja as OGDC chairman and corruption in Haj operations to the most recent case of Khurram Rasool, he said, he had been projected as a villain. “And the ironic part of the story is that all these cases are still in courts, but the media has declared its verdict against me,” said the prime minister.
When asked why he was adamantly refusing to write a letter to the Swiss authorities as ruled by the Supreme Court, he insisted that it was neither his nor his party’s decision. Instead, he said, the president was part of parliament where he was heading a coalition government whose members were against writing the letter, Therefore, he added, he would not commit contempt of parliament.