Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said in a meeting with senior journalists at his residence here on Sunday that the government was aware of its democratic responsibilities and an independent commission to probe the Abbottabad incident would be formed shortly according to the demands of the opposition, but said there were no deadlines in politics as democracy taught reasoning and adjustment.
To a question regarding relations between the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Gilani said that the strained relations between the two intelligence agencies had been repaired to a great extent. Pakistan would continue its long-term strategic relationship with the US, he added. Gilani said that the government had sought the US’ assistance to overcome load shedding in the country in order to provide immediate relief to the people.
He said that the US administration had assured assistance to the Pakistani government in providing cheap electricity to the people. Gilani said that he had asked the US leadership for more trade than aid, adding that increased market access to the Pakistani businessmen would strengthen the country’s economy. The premier said no compromise would be made on the sovereignty and self respect of the country, adding that drone attacks were counter-productive as they united the Taliban, who were separated as a result of the efforts of the government.
He said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator John Kerry had supported Pakistan’s stance on the Abbottabad incident. He said that the US leadership had not accused Pakistan of incompetence or complacency in the Osama bin Laden issue, adding that these statements were issued by some of the US generals. “Unilateral acts like the Abbottabad incident will not be acceptable to us,” he said, adding that he himself had moved the resolution against drone attacks in the National Assembly.
Gilani strongly rejected Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan’s claims that he owned assets abroad and challenge Khan to prove he had foreign assets abroad. “I would donate all such assets to PTI party funds” if found, he added. The Premier dispelled the notion that Pakistan had been isolated on the international front, stressing that the country had complete support of from the West, European Union (EU), China, Saudi Arabia and Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), and its relations with its neighbours had improved a great deal as well.
Gilani said the govt must not depend on international loans. About his comments on Osama during the joint session of parliament, the prime minister said that his statement was prompted by the loss of 36,000 Pakistanis who had lost their lives in the war which al Qaeda and the Taliban had imposed on Pakistan. “A terrorist is a terrorist and cannot be exonerated of the crime by labelling him as good or bad Taliban,” said Gilani. The premier stressed the government would assert itself if anyone challenged its writ, adding that a military operation was not a permanent solution.
He also said relations between India and Pakistan were based on respect for each other’s sovereignty, adding that the stalled talks between the two neighbouring countries had been resumed. The premier said that the next budget would be a development budget, as almost Rs 300 billion had been allocated to development, adding that development was the indicator of economic progress. He said this would be the first budget after the NFC Award, under which certain powers had been delegated the provinces.
Gilani said his government had raised the salaries of the armed forces, judges, doctors and law enforcement agents, adding that it was the responsibility of provincial governments to also raise salaries. He said the nuclear assets of the country were in safe hands and the US leadership also testified to this fact. He also said he was a staunch supporter of local government elections but a decision in this regard would be made by the provincial governments. He said the federal cabinet could be expanded if the need arose.