KARACHI - Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said that a handful of foreign-funded militants, supported by drug mafia, have penetrated the ranks of patriotic tribal people and are destabilising the country by damaging economy. He said the tribal people in the Northern Areas were patriotic and sincere citizens of Pakistan. These people, he said, had played a role in the Pakistan Movement and worked hard for strengthening the country. However, due to the machinations of a handful of mischief mongers, the tribal people were being unnecessary blamed for whatever was happening in their areas, he added. Talking to newsmen at the Karachi Airport soon after his arrival from Islamabad on Friday, the Prime Minister said the top priority of his government was to protect the lives and property of the people. "This is the primary duty of a state", he remarked. He declared that there would be no compromise on the dignity, sovereignty and prestige of the country. He said that the problem of law and order pertained to extremism and terrorism and that this menace was especially gaining momentum in the NWFP, FATA and in the bordering areas. "We are using resources to meet this challenge and have also deployed our defence forces to defeat the nefarious designs of a handful of trouble makers," he remarked. Gilani said that militants in those areas had attacked defence forces, blew up schools, particularly of girls, destroyed properties and even vandalised barber and CD shops. He declared that maintenance of law and order and economy were the top priorities of his government. The Prime Minister said the unlawful outfits in the area wanted to set up a parallel government and to challenge the writ of the state. The government will crush all these unlawful activities with iron hands," he warned. Yousuf Raza Gilani said the government had always preferred dialogue with tribal people to solve their problems. It will even hold talk with the militants but before doing that, they will have to lay down their arms and select the path of negotiations, he maintained. Responding to a question, the Prime Minister said that PPP is a supporter of restoration of judges and would fulfill its promise in this regard but would not believe in giving dead line for their reinstatement. He said that it is the job of Parliament to restore judges. Premier Gilani further said that resignations of PML-N ministers from the federal cabinet would be accepted soon. He disclosed that the MQM could accept portfolios at the Centre. Yousuf Raza Gilani further said that PPP Co-chairman, Asif Ali Zardari was residing in the Prime Minister's House due to security reasons. To another query, Prime Minister also declared unequivocally that Asif Ali Zardari would not withdraw from the Presidential election. "The government wanted to encourage political dialogue with a view to isolate militant elements and to encourage them to join the mainstream politics where they could contribute to the welfare and in the development of the society", the Prime Minister observed. He said that protecting the lives and properties of the citizens was the top priority of the government. Gilani further said that economy was the second priority of the government, which could be badly affected due to the deteriorating law and order situation. He also informed that the US, on the request of Pakistani government, had agreed to provide funds worth around Rs1,000 billion for development of FATA under a 10-year plan. He said his government was aware of the multiple problems faced by the people and requested them to have patience because the government was doing its utmost to resolve all of the issues including hikes in the prices of food items, energy and deteriorating law and order situation. Responding to a question concerning menace of suicide bombing, he said it was not a recent occurrence but added that it should be dealt with sternly with all available means. Referring to his meeting with President Bush during his recent visit to the US, he said the US President had stated, "We would respect the sovereignty of Pakistan and support democracy in Pakistan." Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, who arrived here on Friday morning on a daylong visit, was received by the Sindh Governor, Dr. Ishratul Ebad Khan and Senior Provincial Minister, Pir Mazharul Haq at the Karachi airport.