A rude awakening was in store for Mansoor Ijaz on Sunday, with the prime minister rubbishing the Pakistani-American’s wish to be escorted by no less than army commandos upon his return to his native land.
Prime Minister Gilani stated categorically that no army security would be provided for the central character in the memo scandal – stating that the law does not allow the premier to order such a protocol.
The prime minister’s assertion that the provision of such security would be unlawful is in direct conflict with the order of the Supreme Court-mandated judicial commission probing the Memogate scandal, which had ordered that army security be provided to Ijaz if needed, to ensure his presence at the hearing.
In fact, Prime Minister Gilani expressed regret over the commission’s directives, saying that it should not have issued such an order in the first place, given that such a move was impermissible under existing laws. While talking to reporters outside his residence, he said that rules of the current procedure and even the Constitution of the country did not allow him to approve any protocol for Ijaz.
Having said that, the premier did assure that Ijaz would be given “required security,” adding that it was up to him to come or not. He said that according to rules and procedures, the Ministry of Interior provides security, and would do so in Ijaz’s case too.
In any case, said the prime minister, Ijaz was not a head of state that he would require such security.
“Pakistan will have to spend billions of rupees in order to arrange this kind of security for Ijaz. He is no head of state or viceroy.”
He said that the memo commission, before issuing such directives, should have also thought of this.
“The impression the country is giving to the world over the Memogate is that ‘a man whose credibility is questionable has shaken up the whole country’s foundation’,” he said to a question on whether there was a threat posed by the scandal – something he said was dangerous in itself.
In addition to rubbishing the provision of army security for Ijaz, the prime minister also gave a simple but ominous reply to a question on the government’s plan to place the Pakistani-American on the Exit Control List (ECL): saying bluntly that the government would comply with the directives of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security that is probing the scandal alongside the judicial commission.
Aitzaz vs Awan
Asked if Gilani had refused to accept Babar Awan as a minister in his cabinet on the direction of Aitzaz Ahsan, the premier said that Ahsan should not be criticised on baseless arguments. He stated that Ahsan had never demanded any such move and he would accept any course of action that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) decides for Awan.
Letter to Swiss courts
Taking a new stance regarding the letters to Swiss authorities, Gilani, who had earlier stated that he would honour and respect the court rulings, said that the matter was ‘subjudice’ and advised everyone including media and his party office bearers to not discuss the matter.
When asked about Husain Haqqani, and whether he was residing in the Prime Minister House, Gilani said that when a controversy was created against Haqqani, he tendered his resignation just to pacify the media. The premier asserted that Haqqani was innocent since the allegations against him were still not proven.
Regarding the Senate elections and the strategy of the party, particularly with regards to the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), Gilani said that all internal party matters, including the strategy for the Senate election, will be discussed with the PML-Q.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2012.