With caution and calculated aggression, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has decided to fight the conviction of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in a contempt case, but will avoid any confrontation with the judiciary.
Hours after the Supreme Court convicted the premier for flouting its orders, top leaders from the ruling party met on Thursday afternoon to look into the repercussions of the decision for the government as well the premier.
And the final outcome was expressed by President Asif Ali Zardari in clearest of terms: “He (Gilani) stood for me and the party. Now it is time for all of us to stand for him and I will,” a participant quoted the president as telling his PPP colleagues.
President Zardari also managed to win support for Gilani from all of PPP’s allied groups – the Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Awami National Party (ANP) and parliamentarians from the tribal areas – at a separate meeting earlier in the day.
“We have assured the president and the prime minister that we are with them and continue to back whatever they have decided,” said a lawmaker who attended the meeting.
Jointly presided over by both President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani, the PPP meeting criticised the court verdict, calling it a disappointing attempt to topple the democratically-elected government.
In a statement indicating the PPP would never accept the removal of Gilani, the president’s spokesperson said that the meeting had declared that an elected prime minister could only be removed in accordance with the procedure laid down in the constitution.
“The meeting expressed dismay that an elected prime minister of the country had been sentenced for upholding the Constitution and supremacy of Parliament,” said Senator Farhatullah Babar.
The participants said the PPP had also decided to bring resolutions in favor of Prime Minister Gilani in all provincial assemblies expect Punjab.
According to a participant, PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain advised the government to avoid confrontation with the Supreme Court and try to seek a fresh vote of confidence for the prime minister.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2012.
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