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The Nation

Published Date: Mar 22, 2012


Seeing no threat to the incumbent political dispensation, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Wednesday said there was no need to worry in the presence of Constitution, Parliament, independent judiciary, free media and vibrant civil society.
Talking to media persons after attending a conference on food security, Gilani said all state organs, including Parliament and judiciary, were performing their duties within their defined constitutional ambit. He, however, declined to comment on the contempt proceedings pending against him while saying that the matter was sub judice.
To another question, Gilani said two friends, one who restored the judiciary and the other who led the movement for its restoration, were appearing before the Supreme Court and added, “Once a friend is always a friend.” He said presidential immunity was an issue of the president. Gilani said the Parliament was playing a responsible role and he always spoke as the representative of 180 million Pakistanis.
Answering another question, he said the cabinet reshuffle was a routine matter but his resignation would not be an ordinary affair. Replying to a question, he said the Nato supplies route was neither closed nor opened on the demand of religio-political alliance Difa-e-Pakistan Council.
He said the members of religious parties had also signed the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Committee on National Security.
Gilani said the speaker of the National Assembly constituted the parliamentary committee, with the representation of all the political parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
The recommendations of the committee were a secret document and now the opposition would get an ample opportunity to express its viewpoint and raise objections, he added.
Gilani said the PPP government was taking all decisions in consultations with its coalition partners.
To a question, the prime minister said holding of local bodies elections was prerogative of the provinces, although he had called for the same in the past.
To a query about the timing of next elections, he said now the president did not have the power of 58(2)b for the dissolution of assemblies.
The prime minister said the government increased the support price of wheat from Rs 950 to Rs 1050 per 40 kg as an incentive to the farmers.
Earlier, speaking at the workshop on ‘Food Security in Pakistan – Future Challenges and Cooping Strategies’, the prime minister said the government was committed to ensure food security and protect fundamental right of every citizen to be free from hunger.
In this quest, two landmark decisions by his government had changed the very dynamics of decision-making and governance in the country, he said, while citing the 7th NFC Award and the 18th Amendment.
“Through the 7th NFC Award, we ensured that provinces get due share in available resources and we empowered the federating units to take initiatives for social sector development through the 18th Amendment,” he maintained.
The prime minister unveiled Pakistan’s first ever Zero Hunger Action Plan drafted by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research.
“This plan is the outcome of a long process of deliberations that culminated into a five-day workshop in which experts from Pakistan and abroad sat together to share their expertise and experiences,” he added.
He expressed gratitude to all the conference participants and to WFP, Unicef, UNDP, USDA, USAID, SDPI, Oxfam and FAO who brought experts from Indonesia and Rome to share their best practices.
“We have achieved extraordinary success during the first four years of my government. Wheat production has reached its highest level of 25 million tons. We have exportable surplus and are now recognized as a net wheat exporting country,” he informed.
He said sugarcane production was a record 63 million tons and they were expecting five million tons of sugar production for the first time in the history of Pakistan.
“It is my government’s achievement that the sugar prices have gone down. Although the floods have damaged our cotton crop areas and our farmers suffered more than any other farmer group, there has been substantial improvement in the yield due to which our cotton production has also reached a record level of 14.2 million bales.”“Let us not forget rice. As our major export commodity, rice is fetching higher prices due to quality improvement. We are also opening up high-end markets such as USA and Japan for our horticulture crops like mango and citrus. We are beginning to make our presence felt in the halal meat export market as well,” he added.
Gilani said, “During the first three and a half years, our conscious attention was on development of agriculture and livestock, and by the grace of Allah, we have achieved historic success.”
He pointed the Ministry of Food and Agriculture had already been devolved to give provinces more powers to legislate, plan and implement extension and development programs for food, agriculture and livestock.
He assured that the Ministry of National Food Security and Research through its Zero Hunger Action Plan would not duplicate what the provincial departments of agriculture, food, livestock or fisheries were doing.
“Rather, it will facilitate and support the efforts of the federating units in fulfilling this vital goal envisioned originally by Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.”
The ministry will mobilise international support to help reduce hunger and malnutrition in the country, he said, adding that the role of the Ministry was to develop plans and policies, organize resources and ensure achievement of desired results.