ISLAMABAD, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said Pakistan needs aid from the international community to carry out its social and economic development programme for tribal areas. In an interview to a Belgian newspaper Le Soir, the Prime Minister said, “after the successful military operations, we now need a social and economic development programme.” He said the government has already measured local needs and damages done by the insurgents and schools, bridges and public buildings have to be constructed and it is now that they have to win the hearts and minds of the people.
He said, “We have told the European Union that we will need its aid.”
“We are looking beyond terrorism. We are going for a long run relationship with Europe. For the tribal zones, where we are militarily involved, we don’t only need Europe, but the whole world,” he added.
The Prime Minister said the present military efforts weigh on the economy and “we need an exit strategy: the military is not a solution”.
“The army shouldn’t stay longer than necessary in these zones ·
unless to install the authority,” he added.
To a question, he said, “We control the strongholds of the insurgents of South Waziristan, Orakzai, Malakand and Swat.”
The militants are in retreat, looking for places to establish themselves, territories where they could demoralize the Pakistani security forces, he added.
He pointed out the reaction of terrorists is to attack civil populations – weak targets, but the government is certainly not losing the control of the territory.
“We can find them for example in Sindh or Punjab. But that doesn’t mean that they control Punjab.”
To a question about the attack in Lahore on the Ahmadi community, the Prime Minister said Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) took protection of the minorities to the heart.
“For the first time we have appointed a minister from a minority – a Christian – who is in charge of minorities. After the attack took place, I sent him together with the Minister of Home Affairs to Lahore,” he added.
He said the government had condemned the attacks. The terrorists have no religion, no frontiers, their only agenda is to destabilize the country and that is why they want to provoke sectarian violence, he remarked.
Prime Minister Gilani said the attacks did not have a religious significance as the terrorists want to use sectarian conflicts as aninstrument.
“Besides, we are tackling the laws that are discriminatory against minorities,” he added.
He said during the previous Musharraf government he was in 1prison. “I even heard on the television during my detention that we are a country with an energy excess.”
He said in 1994 Benazir Bhutto had introduced a programme of IPPs, independent electrical power plants, that were strongly criticized by the opposition.
“But without these IPPs, the situation would be even more serious. Yes, we have problems of energy supply caused by a bad planning, inherited from the previous regime.”
The Prime Minister said to have new power projects, the government needs a time of three years, even in short term.
“In the medium term we have planned at five years and the long term at more than twenty years. We have explored everything: coal, water, thermo, solar, nuclear energy and windmills. It will take time. But we don’t have a deficit of more than 2000 MW,” he added.