KHAN KHWAR: Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has invited the opposition parties for a dialogue with the government so that the next general elections could be held in a transparent and fair manner.
“We are in the process of making arrangements to conduct general elections which are not far away,” he remarked.
The premier said this on Saturday while addressing a big gathering on the occasion of the inauguration of the 72MW hydropower project in the Besham area.
Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said there was no threat of a clash between the judiciary and parliament.
He impressed upon the opposition to shun differences and come forward for holding free, fair and transparent elections in the country. “There is no other way to change the government but polls and the people have the right to choose their representatives according to their free will,” he said.
The Khan Khwar project has been completed at a cost of Rs11 billion out of which Rs5 billion financial assistance has been provided by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB).
Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said that he did not have differences with any opposition party and all should make collective efforts for holding free and fair elections.
He said that a consensus chief election commissioner (CEC) had been appointed because “we do not want any cheating in the polling process.”
He said that he had never made any effort to manipulate the elections, rather the PPP had faced many conspiracies in this regard. The prime minister said the present government would complete its constitutional term in office. Some people had been giving a time and date for the departure of the government but all such speculation fizzled out with the passage of time, he added.
He said that no effort should be made to destabilise the government as collective efforts were needed to steer the country out the present crises. The prime minister said that he was sincere in establishing cordial relations with the opposition parties. He regretted that dictators had ruled the country for more than 30 years but no one stopped them from their unconstitutional actions, but an elected government was unnecessarily being targeted.
He said that all the hydropower projects, including Neelum Jhelum, Dober, Kohala and Dasu, would be completed in the shortest possible time to overcome the energy crisis. “The future stability of the country lies in increasing hydropower generation,” he said adding that work on the Thar Coal project had already been initiated.
The prime minister said that electricity demand was increasing whereas the previous regimes did not add a single unit to the national grid.
He said whenever the PPP came into power, it had to face tremendous challenges but it grappled with the challenges with courage and determination. He referred to the electricity crisis in 1993 when late Benazir Bhutto was in power. In order to overcome the crisis, she had given the task to the IPPs, but that programme was subjected to criticism, he added.
Resultantly, the investors withdrew investment in the IPPs, besides some investors were put behind bars by Saif-ur-Rehman, he added.
However, he said, the Benazir Bhutto government managed to add 4,000MW power to the national grid through the IPPs. Had the IPPs not been introduced, what would the power situation have been now, he asked.
The prime minister said that there should be no politicking and propaganda on matters of national interest which might damage the country, should be avoided.
“I also want to install a tent in the Thar area for the execution of 21 coal projects, he said, and added, “We do not believe in hollow slogans. We are all patriotic people.”
The prime minister said, “We will neither blame anyone nor respond to the criticism.”
He said that he was proud of being a person hailing from the middle class. He was also proud of his coalition partners, who elected him with a two-third majority, he added. “I am ready to serve those people, who want to serve the country in a true sense,” the prime minister said.
He said that the opposition always pointed out flaws in the government policies but it should also acknowledge the good work done by the PPP-led government, such as the 7th NFC Award, autonomy to the provinces and giving identity to the Pakhtuns by renaming theirprovince Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Renaming the KPK had strengthened the federation, he added. “Another achievement of the present government is the restoration of the 1973 Constitution to its original form by annulling the amendments made by the dictators,” he said and added when the government came into power, Pakistan was importing wheat but today the commodity was being exported.
He paid tributes to the KP people for their relentless struggle in the war against terrorism. He also lauded the Chinese engineers and workers for their day and night work for materialising the project. “There is no phrase in the books which can be used to explain Pak-China friendship,” he added. Referring to the demands presented by Wapda Chairman Shakil Durrani in his welcome address, the prime minister sanctioned a grid station at Besham and approved a cadet college there.
He also announced one-month salary for Wapda employees working on the Khan Khwar project. The PM also approved setting up a passport office in Besham. He directed the Wapda authorities to fully honour all the agreements made with the local people.
The ceremony was also addressed by KP Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti, Minister for Water and Power Ch Ahmed Mukhtar and Wapda Chairman Shakil Durrani.
The prime minister also had an aerial view of the Tarbela Lake and hoped that hydropower generation would improve with the increased inflow of water.