KHARIAN - Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamaruz Zaman Kaira on Sunday urged people to elect honest and devoted leaders in the forthcoming general elections to bring about a real change in the country.

Addressing the inaugural ceremony of gas supply near village Dewaan Kot here, the minister said that the elections were round the corner and political adversaries were running a propaganda campaign against the PPP. He assured the people that the elections would be held on time. He expressed his optimism that the PPP would win the next general elections on the basis of performance. Kaira said the survival of the country was linked with the continuation of the democratic system and everybody must play an active role to strengthen democracy.

The federal minister said that Pakistan was faced with certain internal and external challenges including terrorism, law and order, energy crisis, insurgency, economic recession, food crisis and floods when the PPP came into the power in 2008. Recounting the government’s achievements, he said the PPP had brought all political forces to one platform and launched the operation to get free Swat and Malakand from terrorists. He said there was scarcity of flour in 2008, and with the prudent policies of the PPP, self-sufficiency was achieved in wheat production. Kaira pointed out that the country was now exporting wheat and inflation had been brought down from 25 percent to 8 percent.

On dual office, the minister said the PML-N leadership must understand the fact that President Asif Ali Zardari’s office of PPP Co-Chairman was honorary. “The PML-N must elaborate whether it wants a democratic president or a conspirator in the Presidency,” he added. He said that unfortunately, Presidency had been the centre of conspiracies against democracy in the past but President Asif Ali Zardari strengthened the democracy by relinquishing all powers to the prime minister and Parliament.

Kaira said that President Zardari opted for the Presidency to safeguard democracy against all such tactics and moves.

The federal minister said that only a political president could protect the country. “We do not need a dictator or an autocrat president in the Presidency,” he added. Kaira said that bad governance was the norm in the Punjab and while the CM was used to clamour about good governance in the province.

Referring to Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s antics, Kaira said the N-League leader must understand that one cannot become the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto through mere imitation but it required actions and sacrifices. He said the national economy had suffered a great loss due to the Yellow Cab and Thandoor schemes in the past but it had been re-launched in Punjab. “Over Rs70 billion are being spent on the construction of a single road in Lahore,” he added.

Kaira said the PPP-led government had dismantled the networks of the terrorist in the country though few dispersed terrorist groups still existed. He said the PPP-led government added 4,000 MW to the national grid, purchased land for Bhasha dam and started work on the Neelum-Jhelum Project, adding that it takes 10 years to complete a dam.

Recalling history of the country when presidents had dissolved national assemblies during their respective tenures, he said the situation had changed now, adding President Asif Ali Zardari had further strengthened democracy and transferred his powers to Parliament. Kaira said that the PPP-led governments had never compromised on the sovereignty of the country. “The government closed NATO supplies for eight months, contrary to claims of certain elements that routes would be restored just a week after the closure,” he added.

He said the government had ensured a consensus on the 7th NFC Award, introduced grower-friendly policies and raised employees salaries.

The minister said that the provision of gas supply was underway to 16 villages in his constituency.