Visit to India in ‘national interest’: PM

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ISLAMABAD – As the federal cabinet approved on Monday the reopening of the Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto case, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani ordered Law Minister Babar Awan to prepare a reference in this regard and told the cabinet’s special meeting that he had decided to visit Mohali on the invitation of his Indian counterpart in “national interest”. The cabinet’s special meeting, in principle, approved the decision by President Asif Ali Zardari to revisit the Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto case and it was decided that the government would file a reference, through the president, with the Supreme Court for its opinion in this regard.
The PM asked the law minister to brief the cabinet on the case (No PLD-79) of the late Bhutto. Gilani thanked his Indian counterpart for the goodwill gesture of inviting him to watch the Cricket World Cup semi-final match in Mohali and said that it was a timely opportunity for both governments to show the world that they could cooperate and sit together on issues of national importance. Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour told the cabinet that Pakistan Railways urgently needed a bailout package already approved by the cabinet three months ago to keep the system running.
He said the repairs of locomotives and railroads were absolutely essential to meeting PR’s needs. The PM told the Railways Ministry and Finance Ministry to hold a meeting and resolve the matter immediately. The establishment secretary briefed the cabinet on the devolution plan of five more ministries including Tourism, Livestock and Diary Development, Social Welfare and Special Education, Education and Culture. The cabinet approved the recommendations made by the Implementation Commission, headed by Inter-Provincial Coordination Minister Raza Rabbani.
The cabinet also approved the creation of a new division to be named “Capital Administration and Development Division”. Rabbani stated that for good governance and better management of organisations, projects in Islamabad and some outlets of the institutions in some provinces should be merged with the new division. Gilani expressed dissatisfaction with the implementation of the cabinet’s decisions and ordered that the matter be taken up with the authorities concerned. Most of the pending decisions were related to the finalisation of agreements with other countries and some of the decisions still required consultation with a number of stakeholders. The cabinet also approved the issuance of a commemorative coin in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Lawrence College Ghora Gali, established in 1860.
It was decided that the National Minting Corporation would issue 100,000 such coins worth Rs 20 each. The meeting approved the decisions taken by the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet made on March 16, 2011. The cabinet ratified the agreement signed between Pakistan and Sri Lanka for cooperation in the agriculture sector. The agreement signed between Pakistan and Tajikistan for cooperation in the health sector during the visit of the Tajik president was also ratified. Gilani said the government had decided to give five deserving students from each district of Balochistan a place in top educational institutes of the country and bear their expenses.
He also condemned the desecration of the Holy Quran by American pastor Terry Jones and observed that this “heinous act” was reflective of the presence of extremism in various societies. He said that such irresponsible acts negated the teachings of all religions and added that it was high time that Muslims and the people of the West should come together and promote interfaith harmony for the sake of future generations. He told the cabinet that the government had decided to register its protest at all international forums and suggested that parliament pass a unanimous resolution against the desecration of the Holy Quran. Later, Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan told reporters that the cabinet had unanimously approved the decision to reopen the Bhutto case.