MULTAN: Buoyant after his party’s strong showing in Senate elections, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has said that he will remain in Pakistan, and that no premier will come from outside, or leave the country.
“No caretaker … or chair-taker will come [in Pakistan],” Gilani said while addressing the inauguration ceremony of Air University’s new campus in Multan. The prime minister is currently facing a contempt of court notice by the Supreme Court for not complying with its orders regarding the National Reconciliation Order case.
If charged, Gilani may have to step down and serve a six-month jail term.
Boasting about the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party’s achievements, Gilani said the government has fulfilled the promise of organising the Senate elections on time.
“The budget of May will be the first 5th budget by any democratic government of Pakistan,” he added.
The premier also claimed credit for being more open to criticism and opposition than any government in the country’s history.
“The PPP always wants to see an independent and empowered parliament, judiciary and media but they all have to work within the limits of the law and the Constitution. There is no restriction on the media and there won’t be any in the future,” Gilani said.
He added that the movements for Bahawalpur and Hazara provinces were meant to divert attention from the formation of a Seraiki province, which, he said, ‘is the real issue’.
US or Iran
The premier also reiterated resolve to work with Iran and the gas pipeline deal, despite US pressure. The Pakistan-US relations have seen fluctuations but relations with Iran have been consistently good, Gilani said.
“We will accept no foreign pressure,” he said, adding that the decisions with Iran would be independent and based on the priority of Pakistan’s interests.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 4th, 2012.