Wednesday, April 28, 2010

‘People of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa should unite’

President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday called on the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to prevent outsiders from “entering your ranks” and unite to protect the country from the challenges confronting it.

Addressing a tribal jirga at Governor’s House, Zardari said every citizen had a role to play, as there was no room for complacency in such challenging times. He said the people of the province needed to check if their neighbours were “illegal foreigners or were involved in unlawful activities”. The president – who was on a daylong visit to the provincial capital – said the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had better understanding of their surroundings and social customs, and called on them to work together for a safe environment. He assured the jirga that the government would fully back the province in this context.

“We will not let anyone take even an inch of our land, and will protect it at the cost of our lives ... as we know how much sacrifices were made for Independence.”

The president said the families of those who had lost their lives in terrorist attacks would be compensated. He said the budget for the province had increased by 30 percent, and the “total budget would be around Rs 21 billion after adding foreign aid and additional resources” to be given by the federal government.

About the distribution of Benazir Income Support Programme Cards (BISP), Zardari said all deserving people would be given cards in a transparent manner. He said the government was pursuing a policy of reconciliation, and described the NFC Award and 18th Amendment as “small steps in this context”. He asked the governors of all provinces to visit Islamabad to discuss their problems, and vowed to resolve the problems confronting the masses. He said he would try to visit at least two tribal agencies each year.

Also, the president laid the foundation stones of four development projects for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The president unveiled the plaques for the projects as he arrived in the province for the daylong visit.

Under the projects, Peshawar Ring Road would be extended at a cost of Rs 303 million, Peshawar-Warsak Road would be made dual at a cost of Rs 363.94 million, 21 destroyed schools in Swat would be reconstructed at an estimated cost of Rs 87 billion and a 60-bed “burn and trauma centre” would be established at a cost of Rs 532.24 million in 24 months.

In addition, Zardari also gave a Rs 30 million cheque to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bar Council Ahmed Vice Chairman Farooq Khattak. Addressing a separate ceremony at Governor’s House, the president said the Benazir Income Support Programme would be improved to attract international donor organisations. Addressing a meeting of the PPP’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter, Zardari said the government believed in politics of reconciliation, and would steer the country through challenges in collaboration with all political parties.

According to a private TV channel, Zardari also said that those given refuge 30 years ago had stabbed Pakistan in the back and also killed former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.