‘Unity on redrafting terms of engaging NATO’


Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan on Thursday said the military and civilian leadership of the country were on the same page vis-à-vis a new plan of action for future terms of engagement with NATO and US forces in the war on terrorism and no pressure could hamper the government’s resolve in this regard.
“Every country has to see its own interests. We have our own interests and all decisions will be taken in the national interest. The matter of framing the proposals for future terms of engagements is with the Parliamentary Committee on National Security. Once the proposals are drafted, they will be brought before the joint session of parliament which will decide the way forward for the government and we will follow the same,” she said when asked whether the US president was pressurising Pakistan to resume NATO supplies.
Asked whether the government was making efforts to put the memo controversy under the carpet, the minister said the government was not making any such effort and the government was committed to conducting fair and transparent enquiry into the matter. She said after the issue emerged, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani summoned ambassador Hussain Haqqani and asked him to resign. “Since the matter is with the Supreme Court, it will decide the matter. Haqqani’s name was put on the Exit Control List (ECL) in line with the SC orders. No one else respects the SC more than the government,” she said, indicating a U-turn of the government against the PPP’s previous stance taken by PPP leader Dr Babar Awan, Khurshid Shah and Qamar Zaman Kaira around a week ago in defiance of the court’s verdict.
Asked whether the government would submit its response with the court on the “memogate” issue, the minister said the court had sought a response from the federation of Pakistan and the government would submit a unified response after taking all stakeholders on board.
She said the cabinet had been briefed by Military Operations Director General Major General Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmed on facts and figures regarding the NATO strike on checkposts in Mohmand Agency. She said the military operations DG also answered ministers’ questions.
She said the cabinet decided to expedite institutional reforms and restructuring of major public enterprises and address the energy crisis on a priority basis. “In view of the urgency to improving performance of the power sector, PIA, Pakistan Railways and Pakistan Steel Mills, the prime minister has directed to hold cabinet meetings every week instead of every fortnight,” she said.
She said Gilani directed the authorities to ensure uninterrupted gas supply to domestic consumers and evolve a gas-sharing formula in consultation with other stakeholders like industrial, commercial and CNG sectors. The information minister said the cabinet also approved two-hour load shedding in cities and four-hour load shedding in rural areas to meet the energy shortage in winter but the prime minister directed to take all power sector stakeholders into confidence on the decision. “The cabinet decided to charge every consumer of electricity and asked to ensure refund of GST on electricity bills. After dissolution of PEPCO, the government is pursuing a policy of transparency and merit for deployment of chief executive officer (CEOs) of distribution companies,” she said. The minister reiterated the government’s resolve to recover the defaulted amount in the power sector and said so far the Water and Power Ministry had recovered over Rs 2 billion.