LAHORE: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has again sent a message to its rival, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, that when it comes to defending democracy, the two parties are ‘in this together’.
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani admitted on Sunday that a ‘third force’ could come to power if his government collapsed, but warned PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif that he stood little chance of taking the helm.
Referring to corruption charges against the government, he said that every democratic administration in the past was removed on charges of corruption. In a dig at his political opponent, Gilani said that Nawaz should know that corruption charges against the government would not result in Nawaz attaining power.
The comments also appear to lend weight to recent murmurs that the two parties were considering shows of unity in the face of a rising Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf – what they, insiders say, perceive as a security- backed ‘third force’.
Speaking at a function in Lahore, Gilani said that conspiracies were afoot to block the Senate elections, a private TV channel reported. He warned against such moves, saying a serious blow to democracy would bring the country to a standstill and insisting the Senate elections would go ahead as planned in May.
The PM also reiterated his certainty that the PPP would win the Senate elections.
The frequent stream of corruption allegations, from one political party to the other, was criticised by the PM, who termed them a fad. “If we have done corruption, an institution is there to take account of that,” he said, asking those with proof against his party to take the matter up in the courts.
On the issue of creating a Seraiki province, the PM said efforts were continuing and that all political parties were united on the issue. Gilani emphasised that constitutional means would be used to bring the Seraiki province into being.
Gilani also declared that the load-shedding problem would be tackled within a year. He dismissed providing subsidies on tariffs as a possible remedy for the issue, stating that electricity and gas tariffs were linked to world markets and therefore such subsidies would be largely irrelevant.
The PM announced that a special cabinet meeting would be held on Tuesday to tackle the energy shortages.
Broaching Pakistan-US ties, he said the relationship should be in line with the will of the people. “No war can be waged without the people’s power,” he said. “All decisions about ties with the US will be taken in parliament by keeping the people’s interests uppermost,” he told PTV.
Gilani also presided over a party meeting at which the PPP decided to launch a mass awareness campaign across Punjab. The PM will, apparently, use speeches and public gatherings to shore up support.
“The PPP, in its first phase, would arrange the public gatherings in six divisions of the Punjab. The first public gathering would be held on January 21 at Sargodha where Gilani will address the PPP rally,” said PPP Punjab Deputy General Secretary Usman Malick. He said that after two weeks the PPP would hold its second public gathering in Kasur.
(APP, with additional reporting by Abdul Manan)
Published in The Express Tribune, January 2nd, 2012.