Bilour assails media’s ‘vilification drive against Zardari’
By Amin Ahmed
ISLAMABAD: Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour warned on Sunday that no democratic government would be able to complete its tenure if the present government was not allowed to.
Addressing a ceremony held at Rawalpindi railway station for the launch of “Steam Safari Tourist Train”, Mr Bilour said the country had tried various forms of governance but the time had come to strengthen democracy.
The minister criticised a section of the media for “dragging President Asif Ali Zardari into the business of Pakistan Railways”. He said no matter how much he was disliked, Mr Zardari was the only Pakistani president who had transferred his powers to parliament.
“Mistakes must have been committed but allow the government to complete its tenure,” he remarked.
He described the president as an ‘aajiz’ (helpless) and a ‘miskeen’ (innocent) man and said he failed to understand why the media constantly picked on Mr Zardari.
Mr Bilour accused the media of damaging the country and said false reports should never be published. “Only God can bring honour or infamy, not the media.”
The minister said the revenue resources of Pakistan Railways had been weakened considerably because of a shortage of locomotives. India had 8,300 locomotives but Pakistan had just 520, of which only 200 were fit for operations.
He said that Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh had promised to give Rs2 billion to Pakistan Railways, subject to availability of funds, to help pull it out of the existing crises.
Former finance minister Shaukat Tarin had promised to give Rs5 billion but his promises never materialised, said Mr Bilour.
“Give us money to buy locomotives and I promise to turn railways into a profitable organisation,” he said.
He said there were two lobbies within the department — the China group and the US group. Sixty-nine locomotives purchased by the Shaukat Aziz government from China did not match quality standards and led to the present crises.
The present government had placed an order for 75 diesel locomotives with China. He said the DEC China had been paid 15 per cent downpayment from railways’ own resources for the purchase of the locomotives at a minimum cost of $105.14 million.
“It will take two years for Pakistan Railways to get the locomotives from China,” he said.