'Madressah reforms to continue'

ISLAMABAD, July 19: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has said that the government will continue to work with all the stakeholders to improve the madressah reforms programme so that needs for religious education are appropriately met.

Presiding over a meeting of the federal cabinet here on Wednesday, the prime minister said the madressahs were playing a useful role in imparting religious education. He said the government supported madressahs which were serving religious and national interests.

The cabinet discussed steps to accelerate mainstreaming of religious studies with modern education to end the tendency of extremism among the students.

Condemning the recent acts of terrorism, the cabinet said they were directed against the nation and in disregard to the teachings of Islam.

It said the violent incidents had strengthened the resolve of the nation to fight militancy and extremism and to struggle for the cause of peace.

The prime minister said the nation was determined to face the challenges of extremism and militancy and work for promoting peace and harmony in the society.

The cabinet offered Fateha for the victims of the incidents of violence of the past few days.

It discussed the law and order situation in light of the terrorist attacks in the tribal belt, areas of the NWFP and Islamabad.

Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao briefed the meeting on the situation in the aftermath of the Lal Masjid-Jamia Hafsa operation, including the figures of deaths, injuries and missing people and questions about transparency regarding the issue.

The cabinet was informed about the suicide attacks and the death toll caused by them over the past few days.

While approving the Trade Policy for the financial year 2007-8, the cabinet increased the export target from $18.7 billion to $19.2 billion.

It stressed the need for measures to make the country's products more competitive.

The cabinet was told that after reaching a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China, the government was pursuing similar pacts with other countries.

It was emphasised that the private sector should benefit from the opportunities made available by the government for promotion of exports. Managerial expertise and labour productivity needed to be improved for quality output of the products, the cabinet was told.

'Trade, not aid' was the hallmark of Pakistan's trade policy, since it ensured creation of permanent jobs, the prime minister said, adding that the country sought level playing field for its exports.

He expressed the hope that the Doha round of talks would be completed successfully. Dawn

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