Feb 19, 2009

Pakistan mulls over sending FIA team to India

Islamabad is seriously considering sending an FIA team to India for further investigation into the Mumbai attacks. The team will gather more information about the Mumbai attacks as Pakistan, after making preliminary investigations, has presented some questions to Delhi. Addressing a news conference on the opening of a regional office of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) in the New Muslim Town here, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Pakistan had responsibly responded to India after getting questions and now it was India’s turn to reply to Pakistan. Comparing the first year of the government to passing through a rough sea, Gilani congratulated the nation on the completion of one year of democracy in Pakistan. “It was a great challenge to run the government in a scenario when everything was in disorder one year ago,” he said, adding that now the situation was improving as the government was tackling the issues. The government had opted for a three-pronged strategy — dialogue, development and deterrence — for resolving the issues that resulted in Swat peace pact. He said the Army action was not the only solution, but the political dialogue would also do. The prime minister hoped that the strategy adopted by the government would yield positive results and help restore peace in other disturbed areas. He said poverty was the major issue in the violence-hit areas while infrastructure development and unemployment were the other concerns of the people living there. If these were resolved, he said, all other issues would be resolved. About the Senate elections, he said after adjustment of seats in the Punjab and Sindh, the parliamentarians of the other two provinces and the National Assembly would also follow suit. “I have initiated this process in Islamabad as well,” he said. For unopposed Senate elections in Sindh and the Punjab, Gilani appreciated the leadership of the PPP, the MQM, the PML-F, Nawaz Sharif, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and independent parliamentarians of Sindh for showing political maturity. About the BISP, he said it was a part of the PPP election manifesto to empower women and the party had fulfilled its promise. He said the BISP was acknowledged by international donor agencies, which were interested in making donations to the government under the programme. But they had linked their support to transparency and good governance with regard to the BISP, he added. Gilani said the BISP was delayed as its prescribed list was comprehensive, which was being tallied with the Nadra data to ensure transparency. He also announced giving 1,000 forms to each MPA of all the four provincial assemblies for distribution. “Those who get forms from MPAs will get the facility from October 2008 when the programme was launched,” he said. The prime minister viewed that people would get much relief after receiving financial benefits under the BISP as they would get almost six-month support money in one go. He said the BISP had received good response from the public. He said the government had also allocated 100,000 BISP forms for the AJK and 50,000 for the Northern Areas. He said BISP Chairperson Farzana Raja had herself visited Fata and distributed the BISP forms among women despite the trouble in that area. Responding to a question, Gilani praised the Punjab government’s Food Support Programme under which the provincial government had been extending direct financial support to the poorest of the poor. “However, every province is not able to launch this programme due to financial constraints so the federal government is catering for every province. There would not be any duplication of financial support given by the Punjab government or the federal government,” he said. Reuters adds: Gilani said New Delhi had asked for Pakistani investigators to visit India. “India has expressed desire that our law-enforcement personnel, especially an FIA team, should visit India for further information sharing and we are seriously considering that,” he said.

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