Pakistani PM resolves to go ahead with Iran gas plan

HYDERABAD: Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has said that Pakistan is keen to go ahead with the proposed gas pipeline project with Iran in order to overcome its energy crisis.

Talking to journalists at the Government College, Hyderabad, during a visit to his alma mater, he said: “Pakistan is facing a serious energy crisis and we want to end it as soon as possible.”

He, however, avoided commenting specifically on a statement by a US State Department spokeswoman warning Pakistan of sanctions if it went ahead with the Iran gas pipeline project.

“We believe there are better, more secure and more efficient ways for Pakistan to get its power. We’ve made clear to countries around the world, including Pakistan, that we believe it’s in their interest to avoid activities that could be prohibited by UN sanctions or that could be ‘sanctionable’ under US law,” the spokeswoman had warned Islamabad on Friday.

The prime minister said the energy crisis had become a big burden on the national economy. He said everyone knew that India had been part of the project in the past.

Raja Pervez Ashraf announced a grant of Rs500 million for upgrading, repair and renovation of the college building. He said the faculty’s demand for upgrading the college to university level would be considered at a later stage.

The prime minister said the country was facing existential challenges like terrorism, lawlessness and price hike that could only be tackled by a united nation and strengthening of democracy was necessary for this.

He claimed the PPP had presided over a “record development work” and “we have restored the Constitution in its real shape”.

Pakistan was importing 2.8 million tons of wheat in 2008, but the present government had taken measures to put the agrarian economy on the right track and now grain could be exported, the prime minister claimed.

He said the government was mindful of the need for improving the education standard providing jobs to people.

“The energy crisis is a major issue and we have to make the federation strong,” he said.

He said the PPP believed in provincial autonomy and the provinces had been given their rights for the first time.

The prime minister said those criticising the government on TV channels had “not visited a town or seen poverty and are aware of the hard realities of life, while we have to appear in people’s court”.

“Only a few days are left before everyone will be approaching the people for vote. Only the people will decide who would rule them and this is what democracy is all about. If we believe in democracy then we should show patience instead of going for a conflict.”

Reminiscences: The PM said: “I remember how my father brought me to this college from a smaller town of Sanghar for education. It was a complete transformation from one way of life to another way for a shy boy from a rural background.” He said he cherished the days he had spent in Hyderabad.

He said the college had given him confidence and he belonged to a middle class landowning family of Sanghar.

Then prime minister paid tribute to Dayaram Gidumal who had donated Rs100,000 for the college in 1917 and all those who had worked for the institution.

He said he was proud of having studied in the college and served under the leadership of the Bhuttos.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah admitted that the college should have been renovated and upgraded, but the project had not been presented to him. He approved Rs113 million, part of the Rs230 million PC-I that had been pending with his government.

By Dawn


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