PM Gilani urges to solve issues through dialogue

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Monday said all issues with India including withdrawal of troops from Siachen and the Kashmir dispute must be resolved through dialogue.

“I strongly believe that better sense will prevail on two sides and we will resolve these issues through dialogue,” Gilani said in his address at the Muslim Hands International Conference, at the Convention Centre here.

The Conference on the topic of ‘Role of international NGO in relief and development in Pakistan’ attracted delegates of Muslim Hands International – a non-governmental organization, from 40 countries including Europe, Africa and Asia.

Prime Minister Gilani said the era of warfare had ended and it was the time to settle issues with other countries through negotiations.

He recalled that at the time he assumed office in 2008, Pakistan’s relations with India, Afghanistan and Iran were not satisfactory.

However, he said he took the initiative in normalizing the relations with India in particular and met Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at an international summit and stressed for pursuing the dialogue policy.

Gilani said it was agreed in his several meeting with Dr Singh that issues including Kashmir, Sir Creek, Siachen, water disputes and terrorism could be resolved through political will.

Prime Minister Gilani appreciated the services of the Muslim Hands International in more than 50 countries in the areas of development, reduction of poverty, promotion of education and for the rehabilitation of the people affected by different natural and man-made disasters.

He said the establishment of Muslim Hands International was rooted in the thoughts and teachings of Pir Muhammad Karam Shah Al-Azhari, the world-renowned scholar and religious leader.

He said it was a matter of pride that one of Pir Saheb’s followers, Sahibzada Syed Lakht-e-Hassnain, who is founder and chairman of Muslim Hands International, continued to advance his vision of a prosperous humanity, free of poverty, ignorance and backwardness.

The Prime Minister said the conference recognizes very important role of NGOs in the development of Pakistan and also highlights the imperative of forming partnerships to maximize the output through greater sharing of ideas, resources and collaborations.

He said with the challenges of resource constraints and the needs of growing population, it was virtually impossible for the governments to undertake the social development in holistic manner.

Gilani said for countries like Pakistan, which has been dealing with the issues of militancy and terrorism, and whose economy has been affected due to severe energy shortages and natural disasters, the role of NGOs like Muslim Hands International was crucial to offset their effects.

He said despite all constraints, the democratic government spent a whopping 1.5 trillion rupees on development projects across the country, which was unprecedented in the country’s history.

He mentioned the Damage and Needs Assessment report on the devastating floods, jointly undertaken by the World Bank and Asian Development Bank and said Pakistan suffered an aggregate loss of close to 10 billion dollars in addition to loss of hundreds of precious lives.

He said apart from the government-launched massive rescue and relief operations, the NGOs such as the Muslim Hands rose to occasion and joined the government to reduce the sufferings of the flood victims.

The efforts of NGO sector need to be appreciated with Muslim Hands being at the forefront in such times of suffering and agony, the Prime Minister said.

He said no country can attain desirable levels of development unless its affluent sections of society come forward and lend a helping hand to the government’s efforts.

Gilani said education and development were integral to each other as without education, there can be no real development.

“NGOs can play a very vital role in achieving this goal,” Gilani said and hoped that this organization, on completing 20 years of services to humanity, will come forward with more enthusiasm to expand its welfare projects in Pakistan as well as in other parts of the world.

“I believe we can defeat the scourges of terrorism and extremism by making the development and distribution of resources equitable.”

“The egalitarian society that Islam seeks to establish can be instrumental in promoting peace and harmony in the world,” Gilani said.

Gilani said the government considered education as vital for society and mentioned that with Rs 22 billion, the infrastructure of broadband was being set up in the country to encourage internet use for knowledge gain.

He said the country has shown resilience of unprecedented nature and its people forged remarkable unity in their ranks at the times of need.

Gilani mentioned a 2010 report issued by Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and said Pakistan ranked 4th by the amount of donations countries give as a percentage of their Gross National Income.

He mentioned the Edhi Foundation for its role along with the Muslim Hands International and said it was a matter of pride that most of the directors of the Muslim Hands International were of Pakistani origin and was building a positive image of Pakistan worldwide.

He assured of his government’s complete support in the endeavours of the welfare oriented NGOs.

Founding Chairman of Muslim Hands International Syed Lakhte Hasnain said his organization helped the victims of the 2005 Earthquake and the recent floods in Pakistan. He mentioned establishing community schools in far flung areas of Balochistan and other deprived parts of the country.

MNA Sahibzada Noor ul Haq Qadri also lauded the services of Muslim Hands International and stressed that Muslim Ummah can jointly work for the humanity.

The Prime Minister and the audience offered prayers for the safety of soldiers in Siachen and for the departed souls of those who were killed in the recent tragic air crash.

The event was attended by Patron-in-Chief of Muslim Hands International Pir Muhammad Amin-ul-Hasnat Shah, Head of Pakistan Humanitarian Forum & Country Director Concern Worldwide Aine Fay, Deputy Head of Office UNOCHA Annette Hearns, Head of Humanitarian and Governance Programs UKAID Jane Edmondson, Renowned Columnist Munnoo Bhai and representatives of NGOs. APP