ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on Saturday said that time had come to rise above petty fights and criticism as consensus and unity was the need of the hour.

Inaugurating a centre of rehabilitation for shelter-less children at Sultana Foundation in Islamabad ‚ he said the country was facing different challenges, but all these could be sorted out by developing national consensus. He said dividends of national consensus introduced by the present government had started paying.

The PM said: “We should rise above cast‚ creed and sectarian differences and stand united to confront the challenges of extremism and terrorism.

A handful of misguided elements cannot dictate their terms to the majority of peaceful Pakistanis.” The PM said youth were an asset and collective efforts would be made for their welfare, adding the youth of the country would be equipped with education. Ashraf said education budget would be increased to raise the literacy rate.

He said under the 18th amendment‚ education had been devolved to the provinces, but the federal government would continue to play its role for its promotion, adding efforts were being made to improve the standard of education at the federal schools. He said Pakistan was blessed with natural resources and by exploiting them “we can transform the country into a prosperous one.”

Paying tributes to the welfare services of Sultana Foundation‚ he said those working for the welfare of humanity were an asset to the nation. He asked Sultana Foundation to enter into a public-private partnership for the opening of schools in Islamabad and the far flung areas of the country.

He announced Rs 50 million for the foundation.

In his address, Sultan Foundation Chairman Dr Naeem Ghani, who spent 25 years in Saudi Arabia, highlighted the aims and objectives of the project. He said about 6,000 students were getting education from this institution which was being run by philanthropists, including Farooq Hameed and Tahira Farooq from Canada and many others.

Dr Aziz Alvi, director of the project, explained the salient features of the new project under which students would be given formal and informal teaching facilities.

Sultana Foundation was set up in the name of the wife of crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Prince Salman. Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said Prince Salman had mentioned this project during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia.