Discussion after budget on early polls: PM
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said here on Sunday that the government might discuss the issue of early general elections with the opposition after the presentation of the budget in May.
Talking to reporters after returning from Switzerland where he attended the Davos World Economic Forum, he said the timing of the elections could be worked out in consultation with opposition parties.
Talking to Dawn, a PPP minister said the elections could possibly be held in October or November.
He said the PPP was consulting all political forces to reach an agreement on the election date.
Replying to a question, the prime minister said he had sacked the defence secretary for having created misunderstanding between the civil and military authorities over the statements of the COAS and ISI chief submitted to the apex court and that was now a closed chapter.
About his former media coordinator facing charges of fraud in the Supreme Court, the prime minister said he had asked the authorities concerned to take necessary action after coming to know about his activities.
The prime minister rejected news reports suggesting that he was giving another extension to the ISI director general and said he would take the decision at an appropriate time.
Agencies add: Prime Minister Gilani said the government would talk to the opposition for evolving consensus on the 20th amendment bill aimed at providing legal cover to the actions of the Election Commission for a certain period after the passage of the 18th Amendment.
“In politics, no walls are built but bridges are made,” he said while stressing the need for dialogue between the government and the opposition on all issues.
“We want free, fair and transparent elections,” he said, adding that a smooth transition of government would set a tradition for future.
He said President Asif Ali Zardari would address a joint session of both houses of parliament in accordance with the schedule and would become the first head of the state to do so for the fifth time.
The prime minister said it had been announced last year that the budget this time could be presented in May to give legislators more time to discuss issues related to their constituencies.
He said the government had written a new chapter by adopting an independent course in foreign policy. “We have protected national interests in letter and spirit,” he said, adding that now people and parliament would decide about the country’s relations with the United States.
Other political leaders were way behind the government in this regard because they wanted to stop Nato’s supply lines through musical concerts, he said.
Mr Gilani said the government had taken concrete action by stopping the supplies, getting the Shamsi air base vacated and refusing to attend the Bonn conference.
He said Punjab was not agreeing to formation of a new drug regulatory authority, while the other three provinces had given their consent.
He said he was deeply saddened by the recent loss of lives in Punjab, but he did not want to criticise the provincial government because he was the chief executive of the country.
The prime minister said the petroleum minister should not have given a statement about increase in oil prices because it was the domain of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority.
He said he had asked the cabinet secretary to ensure transparent appointment of Ogra chairman.
Meanwhile, talking to reporters in Karachi, Religious Affairs Minister Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah said the issue of appointment of an independent chief election commissioner would be discussed with the ‘quarters concerned’ after the budget debate and discussions on general elections would begin after June.
Dispelling reports that Article 239 of the Constitution is being amended, he said ‘political orphans’ were raising a hue and cry about Article 239 without realising that an amendment to the Constitution required two-thirds majority in parliament.