Showing no fear at the thought of being jailed, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani claimed that if he was scared, he would not have joined politics. “I am not afraid of anybody,” Gilani said on Friday, when he was asked about his statement whether he would go to jail as a political prisoner for contempt of court charges.
The premier was talking to reporters after the 75th Convocation of Kinnaird College for Women in Lahore. He said the media had never been more independent than under his government. “I will give more freedom to media. There are two reasons for it. First, when journalists criticise us, our sins are washed off. Second, the criticism takes us to further heights,” he added.
He maintained that his was the only democratically elected government to have completed four years. “We completed four years in power while crossing the river of fire. A constitutional requirement will be fulfilled which has never been fulfilled before. For the first time in history, President Asif Ali Zardari will address the joint session of the parliament for the fifth time. He will give the policy statement in his address, but I would like to reveal that we will give relief to the people in the upcoming budget,” a buoyant Gilani claimed.
“I have passed directions to the Ministry of Finance to create 100,000 jobs so that the educated youth could gain employment. The Ministry for Information Technology (IT) is under the prime minister and I am also creating several IT programmes for the people,” he said.
Earlier, in his address to students, Gilani said that next year would be the centennial year for Kinnaird College, which would be a very important year for Pakistan as well. “The army chief will complete his tenure in 2013. The chief justice of Pakistan, president and parliament will complete their tenures in 2013,” he remarked.
The prime minister reiterated that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had given autonomy under the regime of Benazir Bhutto, adding that the party believed in emancipation and creating equal opportunities for women. “The first woman foreign minister was appointed by our government and so was the speaker of the National Assembly. We have given women the key slots,” he reminded.
Replying to a question on writing a letter to the Swiss authorities, Gilani answered that the matter was already sub judice. He concluded by saying that he was a politician by choice, therefore he had no fear in this regard.
Prime minister in Multan
While talking to the media in Multan, Gilani said the speech of President Asif Ali Zardari in the joint session of the parliament on Saturday would be a reflection of policies undertaken by the government to secure the future welfare of Pakistanis.
“President Asif Ali Zardari will lead our government for the welfare of Pakistanis, who have shown their trust in us through the senate elections,” he added. He expressed that the current condition of Pakistan was completely stable in terms of balance between the institutions. He urged all the institutions to continue to work in harmony as they were today, in complete coordination and under the laws of the Constitution of Pakistan.
WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING FROM OWAIS JAFRI
Published in The Express Tribune, March 17th, 2012.