Pak federal cabinet to be trimmed: Gilani

The ruling Pakistan People`s Party has decided to carry out a ministerial reshuffle.

Lahore: The ruling Pakistan People`s
Party has decided to carry out a ministerial reshuffle and to
reduce the size of the federal cabinet in line with a landmark
constitutional reforms package, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza
Gilani said on Sunday.

"President Asif Ali Zardari and I have decided in
principle to reshuffle the cabinet and reduce its size
according to the 18th amendment of the Constitution," Gilani
said during an interaction with representatives of the foreign
media at his residence here.

The reshuffle and reduction of the cabinet will be
done in consultation with the PPP?s allies, he said.

Referring to a 10-point reform agenda that the main
opposition PML-N wants the PPP to implement by February,
Gilani contended that the move was in fact an expression of
confidence in his government.

The PML-N has demanded a reduction in the size of the
cabinet, a 30 per cent cut in government spending and
implementation of key ruling by the Supreme Court.

Gilani spoke on a wide range of issues, including the
war on terrorism and the US demand for launching operations
against militants in North Waziristan tribal region.

He said Pakistan will not take dictation from anyone
regarding the launch of a military operation against
militants.

"We will launch a military operation in any part of
the country, including North Waziristan, according to our
requirements," he said.

The government is not facing any pressure from the US
in this regard, he said.

Responding to a question about US drone strikes in
Pakistan’s tribal belt, Gilani said such attacks were creating
complications for the political and military leadership.

"These attacks become a reason for unity between
militants and people in the tribal areas and create hatred
against (the security) forces," he said.

"We were able to convince the US to some extent about
the negative impact of drone attacks. We are asking them to
give drone technology to Pakistan and to assist us by pointing
out militant targets to our forces," he added.

Transferring drone technology to Pakistan will enable
security forces to carry out strikes against militants, Gilani
said.

Shortly before the premier’s interaction with the
journalists, US spy planes carried out two attacks in North
Waziristan that killed seven suspected militants.

Replying to another question about Pakistan`s
blasphemy law, Gilani said the PPP-led government had no
intention of amending the statute.

"Blasphemy is a sensitive issue and every person
should respect the law of the land. However, we are against
the misuse of this law. It is very clear that a violator of
the law will be taken to task," he said.

Asked whether Mumtaz Qadri, the police guard who
assassinated Governor Salmaan Taseer for criticising the
blasphemy law, would be brought to justice, Gilani replied: "I
will only say that every violator of the law should be taken
to task."

He refused to comment on elements, especially some
lawyers, who had praised Qadri for killing a "blasphemer".

Replying to another query on the war on terror and
Pakistan`s perceived failure in tackling banned groups, Gilani
said, "We want to be part of the solution and not part of the
problem in the war on terror."

He added: "We are not fighting any other country`s war
but our own war."

A stable Afghanistan is in the best interest of
Pakistan and Afghan President Hamid Karzai "believes Pakistan
and Afghanistan have suffered heavily in the war on terror",
he said.

PTI