ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani Friday said that the government had respect for provincial autonomy and it was up to the provinces to decide whether the local bodies elections would be held on party or non-party basis. Talking to newsmen after attending a ceremony at the Ministry of Science and Technology, Premier Gilani said as the local bodies term was about to culminate and he had held the meeting with all the four chief ministers, AJK Premier and Chief Executive of Northern Areas for consultations on the issue and the suggestions unanimously agreed upon by the participants in the meeting would be submitted to the President for final nod. He said the President believed that it was provincial subject and let the provinces take decisions about their fate. Premier Gilani said that former President General (Retd) Pervez Musharrafs decision to form local governments a federal subject under the Schedule 6 of the Constitution was illegal and undemocratic. The Prime Minister said the provincial governments would take decision about the future of the local governments after holding more rounds of consultations. The elections of local governments were postponed in light of the recommendations of the provincial governments in a recent meeting, Gilani added. To a question, he said PML-N was a coalition partner of PPP in Punjab and was also supporting them. The federal government was committed to provincial autonomy, he added. Gilani said the government was taking tough and unpopular decisions to save the country from difficult situation. I would not say that the government was taking popular decisions but it was taking hard decisions to steer the country out of difficult situation. We have to put the country on the right track. We are the democratic people. We have faced imprisonment not for becoming Prime Minister but for the rights of people, the Prime Minister remarked. When the hard decisions were taken, the opposition was also there (in the parliament), Gilani said in reference to the passage of Finance Bill by the parliament, adding, the parliament represents 160 million people. He said the matter of imposition of carbon tax was subjudice, therefore he would not further comment on it. The Prime Minister said the government had two major challenges to confront including the improvement of law and order and the strengthening of economy, adding, these two challenges were inter-related. Whenever there is a suicide attack, there is flight of capital from the country, he said. Gilani said when the military operation in Swat and Malakand division was launched, there were many people who were opposed to it, adding, it was a hard decision, but we had to do it for the sake of countrys survival. He said now the internally displaced persons (IDPs) would start going back to their homes from July 13 with respect and dignity. Earlier, Premier Gilani announced that the government would soon launch a new scheme to attract talented youth to scientific career. He said that some useful programmes initiated by the Ministry of Science and Technology had resulted in significant enhancement in number of scientific publications in the country. He, however, said scientific capacity indicators for Pakistan are highly unfavourable even with respect to other developing countries and therefore, there is need to turn things around and allow science and technology to play its due role in national development. Prime Minister urged the ministry and all others involved in scientific matters to play a leadership role in putting science and technology at the forefront of economic revival. He proposed setting up of a forum consisting of reputed scientists, academicians, engineers, industrialists and media-persons for regular interaction to help remove bottlenecks in the way of scientific progress. Such a forum would ensure greater coverage and better quality of education at all levels. He said basic literacy to high tech S&T is a pre-requisite for raising agricultural productivity and industrial quality and stimulate growth of manufacturing and services. Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani said other countries were allocating two to three percent of the GDP for science and technology but our allocation is merely 0.2 per cent of the GDP or 0.11 per cent of the total budget. He said the government would continue to ensure that all the allocated funds are released in time and we will also do our utmost to give more funds. He asked the ministry to ensure that the funds are used more productively. We should also benefit from the experience of the private sector and fully utilize the technical assistance of the international agencies offered for promotion of various technologies, he added. The Prime Minister underlined the need for strengthening and developing the indigenous technology base to keep pace with the rest of the world. He said, We can achieve this objective as the country is bestowed with immense natural and human resources. Our manpower is versatile, hardworking, and intelligent.