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ISLAMABAD, Dec 17: After the Supreme Court verdict on the NRO, Defence Minister Ch Ahmed Mukhtar had to shelve his important China visit due to the inclusion of his name on the Exit Control List (ECL).
The defence minister was scheduled to go to China along with Naval chief Admiral Nauman Bashir to participate in a ceremony of taking over Frigate-22 from Chinese authorities. The visit had been finalised three months back but owing to the ECL restriction for the minister, the admiral had to leave without his political boss. He was seen off at the airport by China’s ambassador to Pakistan Luo Zhaohui.
According to reports, the protocol staff of the minister did reach the airport to confirm the latest situation and accordingly informed Mukhtar, who then decided against turning up at the airport.
Talking to The News, a visibly perturbed Ahmed Mukhtar said that it was unfortunate that the country’s defence minister was stopped from participating in a very important defence cooperation meeting with a critical ally at a time when the country was in need of friends.
He termed it unfortunate that despite the fact that he had already challenged the wrongful placement of his name on the NRO list in the court, he was stopped from carrying out his official responsibilities.
Responding to a question, he said that he was acquitted of the baseless corruption cases by a court of law and not under the NRO. “If I were an NRO beneficiary, how could I have challenged the wrongful inclusion of my name before the high court?”

ISLAMABAD: The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) has issued the notification citing inflation in petroleum prices here late on Tuesday, Geo news reported while the increased prices will be applicable with effect from Wednesday July 1, 2009.

According to OGRA press release, the petrol price stands at Rs62.13 with an addition of Rs5.92; hi-speed diesel Rs62.65 with an addition of Rs6.94 while light diesel oil is Rs54.94 with an addition of Rs6.94.

The new prices will be applicable from today (Wednesday), July 1, 2009, notification said.

ISLAMABAD: The All Parties Conference held here on Monday under chairmanship of the Prime Minister unanimously supported the ongoing Swat operation and stressed on provision of every possible relief to the internally displaced persons.

On the occasion Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani urged the political forces to stand united and seek a solution to the problem of militancy and terrorism through a policy of reconciliation and consultation.

The Prime Minister said the internal challenges required the political forces to develop consensus on vital issues keeping in view national sovereignty and integrity.

The APC, attended by leaders of all major political and religious parties discussed in detail the situation arising out of the activities of the militants and extremists in parts of NWFP that forced the government to undertake military action.

The meeting was attended among others by PML(N)’s Nawaz Sharif, JUI’s Maulana Fazlur Rehman, MQM’s Farooq Sattar, ANP’s Asfandyar Wali Khan, Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Imran Khan, Awami Muslim League’s Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, PML(Q)’s Ch Shujaat Hussain and PPP(Sherpao’s) Aftab Ahmad Sherpao.

Prime Minister Gilani said the army action against militants in Swat was continuing successfully, however pointed that it was not a permanent solution.

“Unless political forces step into resolving the situation, there is no guarantee to a sustainable solution [against terrorism and extremism].”

Gilani said the government always adopted the policy of dialogue, deterrence and development in tribal areas, for which it faced criticism by political forces and was blamed for “following the foreign directives.”

However Gilani said “I want to make it clear that the focus of our policies is only Pakistan, and nothing else. We are engaged in ensuring peace and prosperity of the country, with due patience.”

Gilani said the army action became a necessity when militants treated the innocent people with violence and brutality, and made their lives unbearable.

He mentioned numerous cases including flogging of a girl, desecration of sufi shrines, forcing people to follow self-interpretation of Islam and training youngsters to become terrorists, as the main reasons that encouraged the government to call-in army in the area.

The Prime Minister said the history and culture of Swat bears proof that its locals are peace-loving and law-abiding people. However, he said that when people were made hostage by the militants, they looked towards the government to free them.

“It was therefore decided to call-in the army in best national interest and for the safety of our own people,” he said.

Prime Minister Gilani said the army would remain in Swat valley until peace was fully restored and the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) return to their homes.

He said the rehabilitation of IDPs was equally important along with the military action, and said the government would leave no stone un-turned for their rehabilitation and reconstruction of damaged property.

“The displaced people of Swat are the guests of the entire country. They should not consider themselves as dejected, because the government honours their sacrifice,” he said.

Gilani said the government would follow a clear and practical strategy in development of Swat including compensation for damaged property. He said new projects would be initiated to bring the displaced people into the national mainstream.

He mentioned the high-level Special Support Group for the rehabilitation of IDPs, and added that soon an international Donors Conference would be held in Islamabad for raising funds for the displaced people of Swat.

He said the federal government had already provided Rs one billion to the provincial government to ensure provision of basic facilities to the IDPs, while the proposal of giving them concession on taxes was also under consideration.

Gilani said those who were trying to blackmail the state institutions in the guise of imposing Sharia, had been revealed before the nation.

“We are determined to defeat every conspiracy being hatched in the name of Islam,” he said.

Prime Minister also dispelled the impression that Pakistan’s nuclear assets would fall prey to militants.

He said Pakistan’s nuclear assets were safe and any one daring to compromise these would be dealt with strictly.

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