PM says media exaggerates issues, utopia can’t be created
Murtaza Ali Shah & Anjum Mir
LONDON/BRADFORD: Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf says Pakistan’s problems are not as severe and volatile as portrayed in the media, especially on TV channels where the good work done by the government is not shown.
“The media is ridiculing us and criticises us all the time, but we believe in the freedom of the press. We believe that our media is passing through an evolutionary stage and will mature over time. This is our media; we will not fight it and we will defend it,” he said while addressing a large gathering of PPP activists in the England town now dubbed as ‘Little Pakistan’ or ‘Bradfordistan’ as more than a quarter of a million Pakistanis live in the West Yorkshire town.
Ashraf travelled to the city in a train with Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Minister for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar and members of his delegation. It is not only Pakistan which faces socio-economic problems, but the whole world is also facing a depression, said the prime minister.
“We cannot create a utopian land. We acted upon the philosophy of Benazir Bhutto Shaheed that taught us to believe in collective wisdom and bring all stakeholders together to come out of the crises Pakistan faces. That policy has been pursued by President Asif Ali Zardari; we have ensured that there is a coalition of all parties. We didn’t promote horse-trading. It’s only the PPP that has such an open heart for the benefit of Pakistan.”
The premier took a swipe at “some people who don’t want to see democracy flourish because they stood no chance of their own accommodation through democratic means. “I want to tell them that they should not use the politics of the backdoor and must understand that their time is past”.
He said Pervez Musharraf had usurped all powers but President Asif Ali Zardari ensured that all powers were returned to parliament, to the common people of Pakistan so that democracy was strengthened.
“It’s the PPP’s philosophy that we live and die for democracy. This was demonstrated when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto preferred to be hanged and become the people’s hero rather than salute generals. That tradition continued when Benazir Bhutto was martyred amongst her own people, answering their slogans, raising the flag of Pakistan. After her martyrdom, it was President Asif Ali Zardari who saved Pakistan by declaring the ‘Pakistan Khappay’ slogan.”
The premier told the audience that Bradford city had historic relations with Pakistan, as Pakistanis from this city always stood by the democratic cause and “it’s due to this fact that I have chosen to speak to you here”.
He praised relations between Pakistan and the UK and said Prime Minister David Cameron’s government had developed strong relations with Pakistan and the two countries trusted each other and understood the importance of enhancing this relationship.
He praised Britain for helping Pakistan in areas of education and health and for understanding Pakistan’s point of view, including on the issue of Afghanistan and especially for initiating the trilateral talks involving Pakistan, Britain and Afghanistan.
“We appreciate Britain’s help for Pakistan to gain access to the European Union markets. On the issue of Afghanistan, Britain has adopted a proactive and positive stance. We appreciate that British Prime Minister David Cameron has a positive approach towards Pakistan.”
He said the decision as to who will rule Pakistan will be made by the people of Pakistan and no effort aimed at derailing democracy will succeed. He said the credit for introducing a democratic system of governance and voting right to common people went to ZA Bhutto who empowered the poor people of Pakistan.
He described himself as a “middle class Pakistani” who had risen to become the premier of Pakistan as a result of democratic politics. “I am proud of my Potohari middle-class roots. This has happened due to democracy. I am a common man and understand well the trials and tribulations the common man faces on daily basis.”
Earlier, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf inaugurated the Machine Readable Passport Center at the Pakistan Bradford Consulate which had been a longstanding demand of the Pakistani community living in Bradford.
Prior to the PM’s arrival in the city, local PPPP leaders were engaged in a campaign against the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government, boycott of Pakistan High Commission and Pakistani consulates, including the threat of a protest in the city but that didn’t materialize, as the PPP high command from Pakistan got involved and reined in the local leaders. These leaders were told that they will be expelled from the party if any unpleasant situation arose during the PM’s visit to the city.