ISLAMABAD: In his first speech after being elected as Prime Minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf said that resolving critical issues faced by the country including price hikes, loadshedding, economy and the crisis in Balochistan were at the top of his list of things to do.
Ashraf laid out his outline for his time as Prime Minister. He said that his government did not want a clash of institutions, rather would try to strengthen them.
He promised that he would present before the people their blueprint for addressing all challenges faced by the country.
Prime among these challenges, Ashraf said that they will be tackling the price-hike, energy and economic crisis facing the country in all sincerity. However, he called for the support of the opposition to help them do so.
Among the problems which he ranked highest on his priority list was solving the crisis in Balochistan and that he would do his utmost to amend the wrongs. The prime minister-elect said that they would be working to provide employment to the youth in Balochistan.
He recounted that he Pakistan Peoples Party government over the past four years through the Assembly had managed to solve a number of critical problems including that of providing provincial autonomy, settle the NFC award and the 18th, 19th , 20th amendments and the recognition given to the Gilgit Baltistan Province.
Relations with foreign countries
Of relations of Pakistan with other countries, Ashraf said that Pakistan wanted peaceful coexistence in the world and was willing to resolve all issues, including that of Kashmir via talks.
He said that they would be furthering on the efforts of the previous cabinet to improve relations with all neighbouring countries especially the peace process with India.
Terming Kabul as the most important capital for Pakistan, Ashraf recounted former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s line that there can be no peace in Pakistan till there is peace in Afghanistan.
On US, Ashraf said that Pakistan wanted a relation that is based on equality.
He also commended on better relations with the European Union.
Action plan to tackle challenges
Newly elected Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, addressing the National Assembly session on Friday, after being elected as the premier, stated that he would present his action plan of managing the country after he assumes charge.
Ashraf began by thanking all the leaders and members of coalition parties as well as the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) for reposing their faith in him and electing him for the post. He then paid tribute to his predecessor, Yousaf Raza Gilani, saying that he (Gilani) had upheld the Constitution even in the toughest of times. “He strengthened democracy and the democratic institutions.”
Ashraf added that every parliamentarian is bound by the Constitution, and vowed to ensure the supremacy of the parliament, law and the Constitution. “We won’t let anyone else use this power given to us by the people.”
Free, fair, transparent elections
For the survival and strength of democracy in Pakistan, it is necessary that free, fair and transparent elections are held in the country, stated Ashraf. “I assure the people of Pakistan and the parliamentarians that free, fair, transparent and independent elections will be ensured in the country.
“This chair from which I am speaking right now – this chair is democracy’s chair, this is the chair of the people.”
“I want the opposition to cooperate with us on this matter,” said Ashraf, and added that he does not want a ‘politics of clash’ as the country, in its current state, cannot afford any such clash.
Inviting opposition, extremists for talks
Ashraf, inviting the opposition to hold talks with the government to deal with “serious challenges” of the country, said that in politics, all issues can be dealt with table talks.
“I hope the opposition will accept our appeal. We can move forward together. This is the only way to progress.”
Ashraf further lamented that religious extremism has badly affected the country and has caused considerable loss to Islam and Pakistan. “I appeal to them [extremists] to lay down their weapons and join the national institutes.”
Ashraf said that when he was still a parliamentarian, he had intorduduced the Ehtesab (accountability) bill. This was still pending in the assembly.
Now prime minister-elect, he called on the Opposition for their help in to help pass the Ehtesab bill.
‘Carrying forward vision of the founders’
The Prime Minister-elect said that he had been elected to the post due to the faith reposed in him by the party.
He said that he would take the country ahead under the vision of the Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the Quaid-e-Awam Zukfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto.
He added that he was a weak person, a human being, who could make mistakes, but today, with the house as his witness, he would work for the betterment of the people and for that sector which needs good governance.
Ashraf was administered the oath of Prime Minister by President Asif Ali Zardari at the Aiwan-e-Sadr.
Along with him, federal and state ministers were also sworn in at the time.
Ahmad Mukhtar, Khuda Bakhsh Rajar, Sardar Mohmmad Gorganj, Babar Khan Ghauri. Firdous Ashiq Awan, Hina Rabbani Khar, Farzana Raja, Raheela Baloch, Tasneem Qureshi, Muazzam Jatoi, Ameen Faheem, Naveed Qamar, Maulana Baksh Chandio, Manzoor Roto, Farooq H Naek, Dr Nadeem Ahsan, Sardar Saleem Haider, Dost Mohammad Mazari, Hafeez Shaikh, and Khursheed Shah.