Incidence of suicide bombings down 98%: Sherry

Information Minister Sherry Rehman said on Friday that the incidents of suicide bombing have declined by 98 percent in the country during a three-month tenure of the present government compared to 90-days of the previous government.
She was giving an account of achievements of the coalition government at a press conference here on Friday in response to the white paper issued by PML (Q) on 100 days of the present government.
Sherry said the terrorism related killings were 219 in three months (January – March, 2008) of previous government while these were only 21 in three months (April-June) of the present government.
Although, the 100 days of the coalition government have not been completed yet, however, we have made many achievements in this short period of time.
Terming the white paper of PML (Q) a collection of newspaper clippings, she said most of the problems have been created by their own government during the last eight years.
Quoting official figures, she said the number of suicide attacks were 19 before March 2008 and declined to only five after March till- to-date.
Similarly, 36 personnel of law enforcing agencies lost their lives before March 2008 and only four after March 2008, she added.
Sherry said 156 civilians were killed in terrorism related incidents before March 2008 and 17 lost lives after March.
She said the number of injured personnel of law enforcing agencies was 326 before March and only 14 after March 2008.
The civilian injured were 294 before March 2008, and 60 after March, she noted.
She maintained that unofficial statistics were much better for the elected government and worst for the non-elected government.
She pointed out that nine terrorists have been arrested including three suicide bombers. Besides, six sectarian terrorists have been arrested from Lahore while seven suspects from other areas.
The Minister said the elected government was trying to solve scores of problems which were inherited from the previous non-representative government.
“We are correcting economic melt-down with the help of several measures and reviving economic activities”, she noted.
The Information Minister said the government was trying to overcome the problem of power shortage and has saved at least 300 megawatts under energy conservation drive. We are working on a war footing to create 3000 megawatts of power in next one year and say good- bye to load shedding, she added.
Talking of the yawning fiscal deficit, she said the elected government has inherited the largest ever budget deficit, trade deficit and balance of payment problem.
“We have taken measures to cut non-development expenditure and introduced a 40 % cut in Prime Minister House’s expenditure”, she said.
Sherry declared that the government will once again make Pakistan a self-sufficient country in wheat and other food items in next one year.
She said atta (flour) was not available in the country, when the elected government came to power. We are importing wheat to ensure availability of atta to every Pakistani at affordable prices, she added.
She said 1500 Utility Stores will be added to existing 4500 outlets of USC by August 2008 to ensure that all essential food items are available at these stores.
The Minister said that for the first time in the country’s history, Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani was unanimously elected as prime minister of Pakistan.
“Our government has released the detained judges and we are paying their salaries as well. We have ended an atmosphere of suffocation and provided freedom of expression to people”, she observed.
She said the present government wants to introduce a new culture of tolerance and reject the politics of confrontation and criticism.
However, we welcome the positive and constructive criticism for the betterment of society, she opined.
Referring to the measures regarding the welfare of people, she said Rs 34 to 50 billion will be channelised for the betterment of the poor under Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Income Support Programme.
Talking of repealing anti-society ordinances of the past, Sherry said the government repealed notorious Pemra Ordinance and IRO- 2002 and it will be replaced with new legislation through Parliament in consultation with all stakeholders.
With special reference to Balochistan, she said the Prime Minister has announced special relief to the people of this neglected province to remove the sense of deprivation.
She said the arrested Baloch leaders and activists have been released and jobs will be provided to Baloch youth.
She said health budget has been increased by 36 percent and the number of lady health workers in the internationally acclaimed programme will be raised to 100,000.
Peace process with India has been expedited while the Domestic Violence Bill has been sent to Law Ministry.
We have also planned to build one million houses and work on construction of 10,000 of these will begin soon.
To a question, she said Mian Nawaz Sharif is a leader of a large political party and government respects him very much. The Bill for the restoration of judges has been handed over to them as well as other coalition partners. As soon as this document is returned we will take it to the parliament, she noted.
She said all the coalition partners had agreed to a three-pronged policy to deal with the issues of national importance.
“The action in Khyber Agency has been initiated under the guidance of that policy. We are talking to the locals who have laid down arms but we are maintaining government’s writ against those who resorted to militancy”, she added.
She pointed out that action against militants in Khyber Agency has been initiated on the complaints of the local people.

Copyright APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2008