If charged with contempt, I will automatically lose office: Gilani

Published: February 12, 2012

PM says there is no need for him to resign as, if convicted, he shouldn't even be a member of the parliament. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: As the government-judiciary conflict heads towards a potential showdown, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani is adamant not to leave office as the premier who resigned.

“There’s no need to step down. If I’m convicted [of contempt of court], then I’m not supposed to be a member of the parliament,” Gilani said in a wide-ranging interview with Al Jazeera television, which was broadcast on Saturday.

The prime minister was responding to a question on whether he would resign for the sake of President Asif Ali Zardari, whose riches from alleged corruption are at the centre of the matter. Gilani, through his counsel Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, is pleading that he is not in contempt of court for failing to comply with the Supreme Court’s orders to write a letter to Swiss authorities in the National Reconciliation Ordinance case.

“There had been a lot of cases against him, and they were all politically motivated,” Gilani said, referring to Zardari. “He has got immunity. And he has not got immunity only in Pakistan, he has transnational immunity, even all over the world.”

Gilani is due to appear before the court on February 13 to hear whether he is found guilty of contempt.

Speaking about his relations with the army, the prime minister said that he had “good relations” with the military “at the moment”. That has not been the case recently, as Gilani made a statement in China that was perceived as criticism of the military, prompting the Pakistan Army to issue a stern response and even ask the prime minister to “apologise”, according to some reports.

Drone strikes

The prime minister categorically stated that authorities in Islamabad have never approved US drone strikes. “I want to inform you that we did not allow or give permission to fly drones from Pakistan, he said. “Number two, drones are counterproductive. And we had discussed thoroughly with the US administration that we at times make a lot of efforts to very successfully isolate militants from the local tribes.”

Drone attacks generate a negative reaction, he said, with tribesmen in areas bordering Afghanistan. “Then the local tribes and the militants, they get united again,” he said. “They make our jobs extremely difficult. Then there is less political space for us.”

Neighbour relations

Pakistan, Gilani said, backed any Afghan-led plan to establish peace in the neighbouring country and in no way supported Taliban insurgents.

“We are not supporting them. It’s not our job. Why should we support them?”

Gilani also said that regional rivals India and Pakistan could not afford more conflict and were ready to discuss the issues that have long hampered the normalisation of bilateral relations.

“We have agreed to discuss all our core issues, including the issue of Kashmir,” he said.

 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of the story quoted the prime minister as saying that he will step down if convicted. However, he had said that he will not need to step down as he will automatically lose the premiership if held in contempt of court. The error is regretted.

Reader Comments (54)

  • Disappointed
    Feb 12, 2012 - 3:39PM

    Perhaps we will not need you to voluntarily ‘step down’. Once convicted, you will be forced to ‘step down’…

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  • Fahad Raza
    Feb 12, 2012 - 3:51PM

    Wise statament

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  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Feb 12, 2012 - 4:10PM

    PM Gilani is showing the ‘Sportsman Spirit’ even before the umpire gives his decision.

    In case if PM Gilinai is indicted in the Swiss Case, the Supreme Court will not only ask him to resign from Premiership, but will also disqualify him from being member of the National Assembly.

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  • Rashid
    Feb 12, 2012 - 4:13PM

    Thats called LEADERS, we all are with you.

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  • ZKhan
    Feb 12, 2012 - 4:18PM

    If he really sticks to his decision will be good for the country as well for PP. Sacrfice always results in favourable sentiments. Elections are on the door and PP can get tremendous boost due to it. So Mr PM if you are convicted please go ahead with resignation and set an honorable but entirely different example.

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  • H.A. Khan
    Feb 12, 2012 - 4:21PM

    Thank you.Recommend

  • Hataf
    Feb 12, 2012 - 4:22PM

    Gilani proved more loyal than the other party members He has truly proved that he is a leader not an opportunist. Recommend

  • SAJ
    Feb 12, 2012 - 4:45PM

    I hope you will be true to your words this time Mr. Gillani.

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  • A Peshawary
    Feb 12, 2012 - 4:59PM

    If SC awards punishment and PM sticks to his words! it will be an unprecedented, most appopriate and exemplary action in the history of our nation. It should shut the mouths that undermind the creditability of the politicians but I am sure these mouths will bring new absurd stories matching their interests.
    It will be a brave dicision & action and victory of morals, ethical values, the spirit of democracy and rule of a law. There is a lot of talk about “Political Shadat” whcih is rubish and big source of earning (hefty wealths) for the anchers & media persons and a hollow slogan of shallow ploiticians.
    Mr. Gilani if you do what are you saying it will uplohd the values of dignity, respect and honour for which you will be respected by the independent honest ones and of cources be remebered in the golden words by the historians.
    Peshawary

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  • Ben
    Feb 12, 2012 - 5:14PM

    There are ten things I hate about “this” democracy. First, all the citizens are not equal in the eyes of law and the members of religious majority are more equal than those of the minorities. Two, the law and the Constitution encourage discrimination of the basis of religious faith. Three, the entire system is based on hereditary politics, dynastic leadership and monarchic styles. Four, there is a blatant contempt of law and the courts, including the apex court. Five, there are stories of loot and plunder of unprecedented proportion but there is no accountability. Six, elections are not transparent and are held on the basis of corrupted electoral lists. Seven, the common man has no power to “throw out”. Eight, there are different sets of law for the people, the custodians of democracy, and the political elite. Nine, there are endless exemptions and immunities to the elite against payment of taxes, prosecution and accountability. Ten, in spite of all this, they use the name of democracy to seek protection of their rule. Recommend

  • PhD_Norway
    Feb 12, 2012 - 5:19PM

    Ya, as we believe what you say :)

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  • j. von hettlingen
    Feb 12, 2012 - 5:34PM

    Prime Minister Gilani can exhaust all the legal procedures before his conviction is final. It could take months if not years. Meanwhile he stays in office until the next general elections in 2013. If his party loses, he will have to step down anyway.

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  • Ahsan
    Feb 12, 2012 - 5:40PM

    Thank you Mr. PM……please do so…..also kindly stay in Pakistan after stepping down so that the people can make you accountable for the loot and plunder under your nose over the last 4 years….

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  • Khalid
    Feb 12, 2012 - 5:46PM

    Finally some sensible statement fro our primeminister

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  • nnk
    Feb 12, 2012 - 5:54PM

    @Ben:
    So true and aptly summarized, but who cares.

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  • Guest
    Feb 12, 2012 - 6:02PM

    @Hataf: He has proven his loyalty to his party no doubt. His loyalty to the country is another question!
    Although Zardari might just use his Presidential powers to pardon any conviction against Gilani. So as far as the common Pakistani goes, the grind will go on.

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  • grinz09
    Feb 12, 2012 - 6:14PM

    His party will cry – “Siyasi Shaheed”!

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  • Maria
    Feb 12, 2012 - 6:25PM

    Gilani has shown that he is more loyal to Pakistan than many a general or politician. Spoken like a gentleman who respects the constitution and rule of law.

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  • Jpy
    Feb 12, 2012 - 6:27PM

    I admire his spin & guts which is a rare commodity in the political class

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  • Zak
    Feb 12, 2012 - 6:45PM

    One has to be loyal to constitution! He was never loyal to country. If he was memo would not have happens. Haj corruption would not have happened! Billions of dollars would not have been drained in corruption.
    If he really wants to regain some respect he should stop his sons from taking over his place! Pakistan is not a kingdom. Even dictators don’t do that: we won’t accept his son to take over who punches people in the face
    Go on supreme court we are with you! Please after wards indict him for his genuine crimes such as hajj corruption, OGCL case, PIA and steel meek corruption and many more! He is clearly behind it by making his friends from jail heads of those companies!

    If he was loyal he should simply wrote the letter rather than run away for the sake of election!Recommend

  • AK
    Feb 12, 2012 - 6:57PM

    Sometimes, I just feel sorry for this guy.

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  • DevilHunterX
    Feb 12, 2012 - 7:22PM

    What is more important? Loyal to the country or loyal to the party?

    If he was loyal to the country as his cheerleaders keep chanting, then he should have resigned already.

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  • A2Z
    Feb 12, 2012 - 7:51PM

    Some comments are true indication of our failure. One statement turns him into a great leader. They have forgotten what he has done to our dear country in his tenure. The most worrying thing is that these comments are from educated and so called intellectuals.Recommend

  • adeel759
    Feb 12, 2012 - 8:27PM

    Peoples Part proved that it over all believes in the supermacy of law, yes they have made blunders in implementing SC orders but given Pakistan’s culture of politics and how cases are made. I stand with PPP on this for offering the head of PM

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  • zahid
    Feb 12, 2012 - 8:30PM

    Very sad many peoples are calling a person leader, one who being head of a country defying its own constitution,He is not obeying the orders of SC and trying to become more loyal to shah than shah.He is ready to sacrifice his PM postRecommend

  • Fatah
    Feb 12, 2012 - 8:32PM

    “Presidential Immunity” Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

    Lets ask Mubarak about “Presidential Immunity”.

    Hey Gaddafi, how’s your “Presidential Immunity”?

    What about Saddam Hussein? Why did the USA not respect his “Presidential Immunity”?

    Or Noriega’s “Presidential Immunity”?

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  • Tas
    Feb 12, 2012 - 9:18PM

    Historically, judiciary in pakistan has always done the biding of military establishment. Therefore, it is no surprise that PM Gillani is going to be indicted tomorrow. The judiciary had already made the mind and paid no heed to the arguments presented in defence of PM. Its is high time that the judiciary be publicly lambasted for its biased decisions against elected governments, particularly Pakistan Peoples Party.

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  • Imran
    Feb 12, 2012 - 9:20PM

    The judiciary which hanged an elected prime minister on the directives of the military, will not feel any hesitation in indicting an elected prime Minister. Recommend

  • Haseeb
    Feb 12, 2012 - 9:25PM

    @Rashid:
    Really?? Four years of loot, plundering, corruption, mismanagement, etc. and you are calling them “leaders”. Recommend

  • Maroof
    Feb 12, 2012 - 9:25PM

    We did not wish to have the judges who only guarded the interests of the military Generals. But we wanted the Judges who upheld the constitution and worked for the interest of people at large. I feel ashamed to have such a military in the cover of an independent judiciary….disappointed with chaudhary and his team.

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  • A
    Feb 12, 2012 - 9:35PM

    These are not just allegations. The Swiss Courts had also indicted him for money laundering.

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  • Maroof
    Feb 12, 2012 - 9:36PM

    @ Haseeb:
    what about the Generals who dismantled the constitution beyond recognition and go Scot-free? Shouldn’t supreme court hold them accountable??

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  • Simply Sane
    Feb 12, 2012 - 9:37PM

    The dilemma facing PPP leaders as always is: Damned if you do it, damned if you don’t.
    That’s a reflection on the sense of “unfairness” that transcends our Pakistani society esp. The so-called “civil society”. I have yet to figure out whats so civil about their thought processes. Even if he accepts the decision and bows out gracefully, some of the biggest talking heads on the news channels will find “creative” ways of incessantly disgracing the by then ex-PM.

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  • Maulana tharra
    Feb 12, 2012 - 9:43PM

    He said “If convicted” NOT “charged.”There is HUGE difference between the two.
    Does ET not make distinction between “being charged” and “being convited?”
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  • A
    Feb 12, 2012 - 9:45PM

    @Maroof:
    Two wrongs don’t make a right. If anyone is doing corruption should not allow them to do it too.

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  • A
    Feb 12, 2012 - 9:48PM

    @Simply Sane:
    As the head of the government he should have written the letter to swiss authorities. This would have helped Pakistan in combating corruption.

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  • A
    Feb 12, 2012 - 9:51PM

    @Tas:
    The SC is putting every effort to combat corruption. The main problem faced by a common man.

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  • Maroof
    Feb 12, 2012 - 9:53PM

    @ A:
    But accountability must be carried out across the board.Recommend

  • Maroof
    Feb 12, 2012 - 9:58PM

    @ A:
    What if constitution grants immunity to the sitting president?
    Zardari was in jail for whole 11 years during the all mighty government of musharaf. could a single case be established against him? Writing a letter wont do wonders in curbing corruption in pakistan.

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  • A
    Feb 12, 2012 - 10:05PM

    @Maroof:
    The Swiss courts (an independent authority) has charged Zardari in money loundary case.
    How can anyone support an ordinance(NRO) passed by a dictator. If the governement is truly democratic then they should write the letter.

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  • A
    Feb 12, 2012 - 10:07PM

    @Maroof:
    Constitution does not grant immunity in civil cases. and this is cases is in civil nature.

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  • Maroof
    Feb 12, 2012 - 10:12PM

    @ A:
    Should not we honour the constitution that grants immunity to the office of president? A letter will be written when zardari does not remain the president. NRO must not be supported at all. Government is already implementing the NRO verdict of the SC barring clause relating to Zardari.

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  • Simply Sane
    Feb 12, 2012 - 10:19PM

    @A:
    Very respectfully: you missed my point, which is even after he has been punished for committing the ‘sin’ you pointed out, they will not acknowledge anything and will continue to condemn him. You just confirmed my point. Thank you.

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  • A
    Feb 12, 2012 - 10:38PM

    @Simply Sane:
    People would have acknowledge if the government has written the letter to swiss authorities. This would have shown rule of the law and true implementation of the SC’s verdict.

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  • Feb 12, 2012 - 11:56PM

    Lot of confusion has been created by mincing words and try to make the same ludicurious
    Best course would and is to follow the rules.If government does not follow what does it want to do??Who does not know what is happening daily under the garb of various posts held??No one seems to be afraid and are on the neck of the poor masses?? Let rules be followed and PM is on his own choice opting for the Final, knowingly what he is doing.Pray for thre best

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  • Frank Oberserver
    Feb 13, 2012 - 12:05AM

    He should have been dismissed ages ago but better late than never.

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  • Parvez
    Feb 13, 2012 - 12:27AM

    If he gets what he deserves to get, it will be a momentous day for Pakistan

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  • Simply Sane
    Feb 13, 2012 - 12:34AM

    @A:
    Let’s get out of the “should have would have” mode. Where do we go from here. That is the question. We should know how to frame an argument. He’s finally doing the right thing by saying he will accept the punishment. How much blaming and how much punishment is enogh? We have to stop somewhere. Too much vindictiveness will make the accuser lose any appearance of being reasonable.

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  • shar uk
    Feb 13, 2012 - 12:53AM

    Great leader? Is interview with al jaz he couldnt put a sentance together and blatently avoiding toanwer about zardari he was corrupt or not pathetic

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  • Maulana tharra
    Feb 13, 2012 - 1:30AM

    He said “if convicted” not if charged; huge difference not just semantics.

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  • Mirza
    Feb 13, 2012 - 4:05AM

    After this case is over one way or the other and Memogate taking its last breaths, what else does PCO SC have against the elected govt? All these unelected generals and judges keep getting extensions after extensions and think it is their right to rule, not the people’s mandate. No wonder there is so much hatred toward democracy perpetuated by the mullah/military/judiciary alliance. Currently three chief justices of various HC and full SC is busy only in cases against the govt. The other cases are all have no importance. Just like the restoration of CJ has solved all the problems of poor Pakistanis, the removal of PM would take care of all the problems of poor citizens.

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  • Waleed
    Feb 13, 2012 - 5:04AM

    He should step down, because if he does it without any influence from external threat- if he is indicted then he would be dismissed from his job and then you all know Zardari will bring him back…but if he steps down at his own will then he might never go back on to that position again

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  • Feb 13, 2012 - 9:17AM

    We are waiting for this great time When u leave Office & when that Zardari is GONE

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  • Ahmer Ali
    Feb 14, 2012 - 10:11AM

    As now you have been convicted with contempt of court.Now resign from Premiership voluntarily and make/declare yourself democratic/political hero and martyr before the nation and try to regain the soft corner once again in the nation’s heart instead of appealing in the Supreme Court against the conviction orders.

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