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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Prime Minster of Pakistan: Gilani Backtracks

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Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani backtracked on Tuesday from a statement that Islamabad would abide by US sanctions on Iran that could affect a $7.6 billion Pakistani-Iranian gas pipeline project. On Monday, Gilani said Pakistan would respect US sanctions that are expected to be put into law shortly, part of Washington's opposition to an Iranian nuclear programme it suspects is being used for weapons.

Gilani said on Tuesday, however, he wanted to clarify and "get it right". "As far as the US is concerned, we're not bound to follow it," he said while speaking at a ceremony in Islamabad. "If these are UN (sanctions) then according to international laws, we'll consider them." US Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke warned Islamabad on Sunday against over committing to the natural gas pipeline project because of the expected effects of the sanctions.

Pakistan is desperate for new energy sources, saddled with expensive generation and a daily shortage of as much as 5,000 megawatts. Frequent outages hamper industry and have sparked street protests against the government. The pipeline, expected to be completed by 2015, originally would have terminated in India. However, New Delhi has been reluctant to join given its long-running rivalry with Pakistan.

APP adds: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday said Pakistan was not bound to follow the US restrictions placed on Iran, but would consider implementing the UN sanctions under its international obligations. Addressing a luncheon in honour of parliamentarians the Prime Minister clarified his remarks made on Monday at Garhi Khuda Bux about the impact on the over seven billion dollars Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, if sanctions were imposed by the US or the UN on Iran.

In his address to the parliamentarians Prime Minister Gilani said all state institutions need to work within their constitutional ambit for achieving the greater good, for serving the masses and in the larger interest of the country. Prime Minister Gilani said the people of Pakistan have elected its representatives for a period of five years with a view to solve their problems.

Gilani said the government has never claimed that there were no problems or it knew the solution to all ills, but said that it was learning from experience and its mistakes. He said the government has good ties with the opposition, the media and all other pillars of the state and believes that the country can progress and move forward by adhering to the policy of reconciliation and consensus.

He recalled that the government responded forcefully when its writ was challenged by extremists in Swat and Malakand. He said the government with the support of all political forces in the country forged a strong policy against the militants and the entire nation stood as one. He pointed that the recent budget by the federal and the provincial governments have been prepared in difficult circumstances but keeping in view the global economic condition and the ground situation tough decisions have been taken, in the larger national interest. He said efforts were being made to maintain the pace of national progress.

He hoped that the parliamentarians would continue to guide the government on issues of good governance and legislation. The Prime Minister mentioned the achievements of his governments that included the 7th NFC Award, the 18th Amendment to restore the constitution to its original form, the Benazir Income Support Programme, Agaz-e-haqooq-e-Balochistan and the Gilgit-Baltistan empowerment package.

Gilani said his government was committed to address the issues of law and order, terrorism, unemployment and poverty by allocating more resources. "We have to inevitably take tough decisions, and positive results were coming," he added. He said the parliamentarians should stand united by rising above their party and personal affiliations to find a solution to the ills afflicting the society. He said his government has distributed development funds to all the parliamentarians without any discrimination.

He expressed satisfaction at the performance of the parliament and said it has come up to the expectations of the people of Pakistan. He said supremacy of the parliament needs to be ensured. He said certain elements wanted conflict between the government and the judiciary but said all such attempts would fail. He dispelled such impressions and said his government enjoyed good ties with all state institutions.

He said the judiciary was trying to bring about social justice in the society. Gilani said his government was following in letter and spirit all the rules and regulations and has nothing to hide. "We are not law breakers, we are the law makers."

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