ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani delivered a scathing riposte to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf on Sunday over their back-to-back public rallies in support of the superior judiciary.
Even if Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan join hands, the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is “popular enough to defeat their alliance”, Gilani told office-bearers of the Lahore Press Club at his residence. The prime minister also accused the two parties of inciting street agitation through their actions and reminded the PML-N chief that his party was violating the Charter of Democracy.
Nawaz had invited the PTI to join his movement to oust Premier Gilani following his conviction by the apex court. But Imran says his party would join hands with the PML-N only if its lawmakers resign en masse from parliament and the provincial legislatures – both unacceptable preconditions for the Sharif brothers.
The two parties are now leading street protests separately.
Premier Gilani said it was he and President Asif Ali Zardari who faced former military ruler Pervez Musharraf with courage while the Sharif brothers “fled the country after signing a deal with the dictator”.
The PPP leadership would do the same, whenever needed, and the Sharif brothers would again escape from the country, he added.
He called upon the Sharif brothers to apologise to the nation for “concealing their agreement with Musharraf and telling lies for ten years”.
The premier laughed off Sunday’s public rally of the PML-N in Taxila, saying that “my son can stage bigger rallies for them”.
Describing the PML-N’s street protests as realpolitik, Gilani challenged them to resign from the assemblies and he would announce snap polls. “If the PML-N leadership has courage, they should ask their lawmakers to resign from the assemblies en bloc and I will announce by-polls the same day,” he said.
The prime minister said that if the opposition wanted to unseat him, they ought to table a no-confidence motion in parliament. He insisted that he could not be forced to relinquish his post. “Nobody can remove me from my office through any undemocratic or unconstitutional method as there is a constitutional procedure for the removal of a prime minister,” he added.
He also reminded Nawaz of the Charter of Democracy he had signed with slain PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto. The two leaders had agreed to uphold the cause of democracy in the country. “The PML-N is a signatory to the Charter of Democracy, so why is it staging a long march (against a democratic government?” he asked.
He vowed not to relent to the opposition pressure and step down voluntarily. He said that only parliament could de-notify him. If the apex court disqualifies me in its detailed judgment, even then the National Assembly speaker will decide my fate, he added.
Referring to the Pakistan Bar Council’s statement, the premier said that all bar councils of the country have endorsed the PPP’s stance on this matter.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2012.