ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani on Saturday took a swipe at critics of the government who advocate a tit-for-tat reply to US drone attacks, explaining “we are trying to convince Washington that these strikes will eventually prove counter-productive”.
“Pakistan is a responsible nuclear state which cannot take any irresponsible step to stop US Predator attacks. We are, however, confident that we will be able to persuade the world and the US to stop the drone attacks as they affect attempts to isolate militants from non-combatants,” Mr Gilani said during a first-ever live telecast from the Prime Minister’s House.
The programme was a joint presentation of the Pakistan Television and a private network.
Mr Gilani reiterated his stance about WikiLeaks, dismissing as concocted its “revelations” about his tacit approval of the use of drones.He described as unwarranted the strike observed on Friday over the blasphemy issue because the government had not taken any decision to amend the law.
He clarified, however, that concerns of minorities about misuse of the blasphemy law would be taken care of.
In reply to a question whether there was any hope of a breakthrough in talks with India, the prime minister said resumption of dialogue was the only way forward as no issue could be resolved through war.
“Although (Indian premier) Manmohan Singh agreed in several meetings with me that bilateral talks should not be made hostage to the (Mumbai attacks) tragedy, the Indian rulers seem to be under political pressure at home not to make any compromise with Pakistan,” Mr Gilani observed.
He asserted that his government was stable despite all speculations.
In reply to a number of queries, both from callers and anchors, about reports of corruption in his government, Mr Gilani said he was determined to stamp out wrong-doings of all sorts in the new year.
He justified what was termed as favouritism and nepotism in a number of high-profile appointments, saying all those appointed were holding high posts in the past.
He said: “I want that a consensus accountability bill is passed in parliament to make the process transparent departing from the past practice of political vendetta.”
During the 50-minute programme two anchors took almost equal time in putting their queries giving remaining time to the general public across the country.
The prime minister ignored the demand of his replacement made by the estranged coalition partner Maulana Fazlur Rehman, saying “we should take the maulana’s criticism positively as he remained our ally and we would still like that he remains our supporter”.
So far as the MQM’s anger with the coalition government was concerned, he said the Muttahida had no complaints against him as most of them concerned with the Sindh government.
Reconciliation: Explaining the political reconciliation which is adopted by him as his government’s policy, the prime minister said: “It means a balance of relations and a consensus among all the organs of state, including political parties, establishment, media and civil society”.
Most of the callers from destinations like Rahim Yar Khan, Islamabad, Jhang etc., questioned the prime minister about the genie of price hike. The prime minister attempted to shift responsibility by linking inflation to the world economic recession in the first place, war on terror and lastly the floods in the country.
He defended construction of bomb- proof walls around the President’s House in Naudero and his own residence in Multan as security precaution when a caller invited his attention
towards people’s agonies due to the economic recession while presidency and PM houses were spending hugely on their protection.
He said the government was fully conscious of the people’s sufferings due to the price hike but construction of bomb-proof walls around the president’s and his own house in Multan were requirement of security, adding that he had never stayed at his home residence and stays at circuit house due to lack of sufficient security at his residence.
Mr Gilani did not agree with a caller who asked him as to what the 18th and 19th amendments had given or would give to the common man who needed respite from the heavy cost of living and said civil liberties that had come through independence of judiciary and media were all due to the constitutional changes.
He admitted the sprawling unemployment especially among the 65 percent population of youth but explained that the government was not employment exchange but its job was to create opportunities through development of technical education, industrialisation and agriculture which it was doing.