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A judicial or executive order was not enough to launch a controversial project like the Kalabagh dam, the prime minister said on Saturday.

“Projects of national import are executed only after thrashing out a consensus of all stakeholders,” Raja Pervez Ashraf said in  reply to a question about the Lahore High Court’s verdict  ordering the federal government to go ahead with the construction of dam.

“The issue is being raised by some people at a time when elections are round the corner. But these people made no attempt  to build the dam when they were in power,” the PM  said in an interview to Dunya news TV channel.

He disagreed with a questioner that the present government had resorted to unprecedented borrowing to meet its runaway  expenditure.

“Perception doesn’t always match reality. The  government’s expenditure has risen by just seven per cent over  the past few years,” an emphatic Raja Ashraf retorted.

The federal government had curtailed its expenditure, but the  provinces had increased theirs after receiving more funds under  the seventh National Finance Commission award, he contended.

The prime minister said that when the PPP came to power, the  country was importing wheat, but now it was exporting the commodity.

“The government has done its best to guarantee food security to the poor,” he claimed.

Mr Ashraf made no effort to conceal his relief over the  fact that the PPP-led setup was on the threshold of making history — the first elected government to complete its five-year term. “I have  no doubt that this will have a far-reaching impact on democracy.”

About a probable date for the general election, he said the schedule would be announced after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition
in the National Assembly.

In reply to a question about carving out of a province in southern Punjab, Raja Ashraf said it was not merely a political or election slogan, but a genuine demand of the people.

“All stakeholders should ensure that they do not make unnecessary hurdles in this regard for minor political gains.” He said Balochistan was on the top of his government’s priority list and “we are trying to resolve issues through political means”.

The government had formulated a new policy of postings and transfers so that competent officers were posted in the province.

Referring to work on the Kachhi Canal and a road network for Gwadar port, he said initiatives to develop Balochistan were yielding results.

About the law and order situation in Karachi, the prime minister said although it was a provincial matter, the federal government was
contributing to efforts for bringing about an improvement.

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