In an apparent rebuke to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz for its street agitation, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Saturday came down hard on “political leaders who are trying to gain political mileage by blowing everything out of proportion and confusing the masses.”
“They will not succeed because the [Pakistani] people know their politicking against democracy,” the premier said in a wide-ranging address to the Pakistani Diaspora in the Australian city of Perth.
Though the prime minister did not name any political leader, the obvious target of his scathing criticism was the PML-N which on Friday kicked off a mass movement to rid the country of the Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) “corrupt” government.
“If anyone has problems, they should either move the courts or take the political trajectory and contest the next election on the basis of issues,” the premier said. “This is not the way to come out on the streets and chant slogans against the country’s leadership.”
At Friday’s public rally in Lahore, PML-N leader and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif declared war on President Asif Zardari, threatening him to resign or else the PML-N supporters would “hang him upside down at Bhatti Chowk”.
For his use of ‘insulting language’ against Zardari and denunciation of the head of the state, Sharif invited the wrath of political leaders of all hues. But the PML-N is unmoved by this criticism and plans more street protests against the government.
Prime Minister Gilani, however, advised the PML-N to stop using unconstitutional means in its quest for power because it was in nobody’s interest.
He rejected the allegations of inefficiency against his government and recounted his achievements in all fields. But in the same breath he added that no single political party or individual could steer the country out of the mess. “The nation needs to stand united, and together we can face the challenges,” he added.
Premier Gilani recalled that the PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif had decided to boycott the 2008 elections but President Zardari made him change his mind and lead his party in the elections.
About US drone strikes in the tribal regions which, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has made a rallying point, Prime Minister Gilani categorically said that they have not given any permission to the US to launch missile attacks inside Pakistan.
The premier said such attacks were counterproductive because of the collateral damage they caused and undermined the government’s efforts to get the unanimous support of the masses against extremists and terrorists.
He admitted that drone attacks were one of the reasons behind strained relations between Pakistan and the United States. About the fight against militancy, the premier told the Pakistani Diaspora that the nation stood united to eliminate extremism and terrorism from the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2011.