Change through ballot, not through sit-ins: Kaira

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira on Friday said that any change in the country could only be brought through ballot not through sit-ins or protest demonstrations.
Addressing the concluding session of a week-long journalists training workshop at the National Press Club (NPC) here, Kaira said, “The people, who want to bring revolution, should contest elections and seek vote from the people as nothing can be changed through sit-ins and protests”.
He called upon Chief of Minhajul Quran Dr Tahirul Qadri to follow the democratic and constitutional course for his reforms agenda.
Kaira said if Dr Tahirul Qadri believed in democracy, he should get the public mandate and change the system through the Parliament.
He said that the Minhajul Quran was a religious NGO (non-governmental organization) and not a political party, so Dr Qadri should better join the politics and get his party registered with the Election Commission to participate in the elections.
He wondered how Dr Qadri could bring change if he did not want to contest the elections and get the people’s mandate.
Replying to a question, he said that Interior Minister Rehman Malik met with Tahirul Qadri to share with him the information about terror threats.
Answering another question, he said there were concerns in different quarters about the long march of Tahirul Qadri as questions were being raised that from where he was getting funds for the purpose.
About the new wave of terrorism, he said that some elements wanted to delay the electoral process, but they would not succeed in their nefarious designs.
The Information Minister said that the policy of reconciliation had strengthened the Federation and the country was put back on the path of prosperity and progress.
He said that the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) inherited a “bleeding Pakistan”, when it came into power. The country was facing many internal and external challenges, including terrorism, law and order in Swat and Malakand, energy crisis, economic recession, food crisis and floods, besides an ailing economy. But the government tackled all such issues amicably, he added.
He said that at that thime the world was concerned about the prospects of falling of Islamabad into the hands of terrorists. But the government got united the nation against terrorism and formulated a clear cut policy to counter the menace of extremism and militancy, he added.
Kaira said that the PPP-led government had dismantled the terrorist networks except a few dispersed groups still existed.
Enumerating achievements of the government, he said that an equitable system of resource distribution was evolved and the longstanding demands of the provinces were fulfilled by a durable provincial autonomy.
The rights of suppressed people were restored and the mistrust between the Centre and the provinces was turned into a sense of unity, he added.
He said that the consensus based decision making restored people’s confidence in the democratic system. The government pursued the politics of reconciliation as per the vision of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and introduced new political traditions and culture during the last four and a half years.
Kaira said that the PPP government, when it took over in 2008, inherited a weak federation, bad governance, institutional chaos and distrust among the provinces.
However, the government addressed the systemic distortions caused by the authoritarian adventures, and forged new relationships at federal, provincial and local levels, he added.
The Information Minister said that the PPP had assembled all the political forces of the country at one platform and got freed Swat and Malakand from the clutches of terrorists.
He said the government had given provincial autonomy to the provinces, by transferring 70 per cent resources to them under the National Finance Commission Award.
He said that the government had made the country self-sufficient in wheat. Today the country has started exporting wheat and sugar while it had to import 2.5 ton wheat in the past, he added.
The minister said that the BISP was initiated in April 2008 with the objective of enhancing capacities of the poor people and their dependent family members.
Through this programme millions of beneficiaries were provided social protection, he added.
The minister said that the international community had also appreciated the transparency of the programme.
About the energy crisis, Kaira said steps were taken to enhance the hydel power generation for which projects, including Mangla Dam Raising Project, Allai Khawar Hydro Power Project, Diamer Bhasha Dam, Duber Khawar, Gomal Dam, Satpara Dam, Neelum Jhelum project and Thar coal project were launched.
The PPP-led government added 3800 MW to the national grid and purchased land for the Bhasha Dam, he added He said in 2008, the country was facing flour and fertilizer crises but today there was no such problem.
Kaira said the government had planned to import LNG but during the process, a petition was filed in the court, which delayed its import. “We are again negotiating with the international companies for LNG import after two and a half years, but its price has risen to 17 dollar whereas it was 8 dollar per MMBTU earlier,” he added.
Replying to a question he said the country was tried to run as centric state to strengthen the Federation under the constitutions made before 1973 which caused deprivations among the people of different provinces, he added.
He said the PPP introduced a federal parliamentary system through 1973 Constitution, giving rights to the people and the provinces, besides strengthening institutions.
However, the country was again run as a centralized state during Ziaul Haq regime which weakened it, he added.
To a question about the MQM chief’s statement about the Quaid-e-Azam, he said it was regrettable.
He said at that time Pakistan and Hindustan used to function under the Act of 1935  passed by the British Parliament.
Kaira said that the first constitution of India was made in 1950 while Pakistan’s provisional constitution was promulgated in 1956, which was though not according to the vision of Quaid-e-Azam.
He said that Quaid-e-Azam took oath as Governor General under 1935 Act as there was no constitution of Pakistan at that time.
He said that the great leader and founder of Pakistan was not only the leader of Muslims living in Pakistan but also of those, who were left in India.
The minister also appreciated the National Press Club for holding a training workshop for journalists.