No winner or loser on NRO, says Gilani

LAHORE: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said the issue of the 17th Amendment would be resolved in accordance with the Charter of Democracy.

Talking to reporters at the residence of PPP central executive committee member Aslam Gill on Sunday, he said the government had decided to table the NRO in parliament in accordance with a Supreme Court order. But it was withdrawn in view of the opinion of political parties. ‘This is not a matter of winning or losing but part of the government’s policy of reconciliation in the larger national interest.’

Mr Gilani asserted that there would be no compromise on national interests, security and the nuclear programme.

He said the PPP had rendered more sacrifices than any other political party for the restoration of judiciary and it was Benazir Bhutto who had launched the movement for the purpose.

The prime minister said that after becoming prime minister, his first orders were for the release of judges.

On the Kerry-Lugar Act, he said it was a law of the United States, not of Pakistan. ‘The most we can do is to refuse to accept aid under it.’

He said Pakistan needed IMF assistance because the country ‘is in a state of war and it needs help to resolve its economic issues’.

He said the government had accepted an MQM proposal that a two-member committee be set up on the NRO.

He said the government was preparing to present a constitutional package on Balochistan to address issues of the province, adding that consultations would be held with all political parties on the matter.

The prime minister said he had invited Mian Nawaz Sharif to discuss the Balochistan issue. — APP


Water distribution as per ’91 accord, says Gilani

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani admitted in the National Assembly on Friday that there was a serious dispute among the provinces over water, but assured the house that distribution would be on the basis of the 1991 accord reached during the tenure of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

He said there was temporary shortage which was now over. He categorically stated that the water share of one province would not be diverted to another.

Mr Gilani said he was in contact with the Punjab chief minister and had also held a meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari over the issue. ‘The 1991 water accord would be followed and there should be no doubt about it.’

He said he would soon chair a meeting of the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) and the Ministry of Water and Power and parliamentarians having reservations over water distribution would also be invited.

Referring to a complaint about non-representation of Fata legislators and women in the parliamentary committee on constitutional reforms, he said the issue should be discussed with the speaker in her chamber.

He said that besides private members day there should be a day for adjournment motions in order to make parliament strong and more effective.

After a two-week debate on the budget, lawmakers agreed to set aside the normal agenda, including question hour, and deliberated for three hours on points of order.

Leader of Opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that although the opposition had allowed the budget to be passed without hindrance, it would monitor the implementation of the budget which contained some ‘serious errors’.

Chaudhry Nisar said that every figure the house had passed was sacrosanct and ‘we will make sure that no one violates it or shows any laxity in its implementation’.

Legislators belonging to both sides complained about usurpation of water share of one province or the other.

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said the NWFP had been deprived of its share of water from Chashma Right Bank Canal by excessive releases at Taunsa and Chashma barrages.

Abdul Ghani Talpur of the PPP complained about the shortage of water in Sindh, Riaz Pirzada and Sardar Bahadur Sehar of the PML-Q raised the issue of reduced flow in Bhawalpur canals and Chaudhry Saood of the PML-N said the people of Bhawalpur and Choolistan were facing hardship because of scarcity of water.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement criticised the government for not taking seriously the issue of prolonged loadshedding in Karachi and sought an assurance from the prime minister about solving the problem.

The prime minister said that Water and Power Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf would respond to MQM’s complaint. But the minister kept quiet, prompting Minister for Shipping and Ports Babar Ghauri to bring the matter to the notice of the speaker.

The chair ruled that a minister could not ask another minister to explain something on the floor of the house and adjourned the house till Monday evening.

MQM lawmakers twice registered their protest against what they called the government’s apathy towards the hardship being faced by the people of Karachi because of continuing power outages.

ANP dissident Khawaja Mohammad Khan Hoti caused a furore when he complained that only a select group of lawmakers were allowed to speak on the budget. He accused the authorities of being involved in kidnapping for ransom in the NWFP.