Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani gave the impression on Saturday that he would go down fighting, but would not forgo his right to appeal at any cost.
“Come what may, I will protect the Constitution of Pakistan. I will go to the last limit and exhaust all my options and exercise my right to appeal,” Gilani told a large gathering of leaders and workers of the Pakistan Peoples Party in London.
“I am not one of those who will stab the party in the back and I believe that under Article 248 of the Constitution, the president of Pakistan has complete immunity and is not required to write any letter,” he said.
Expressing what he dubbed was his resolve to protect the country, the premier said: “We will reject any unconstitutional step in Pakistan.”
Gilani said the opposition wants him to resign on moral grounds, while it too has “hundreds of cases pending in the courts.”
He said there were a number of cases against the Sharifs involving the National Accountability Bureau and Mehran Bank, which had been pending for the past 20 years.
He questioned how PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif could take out rallies in support of the judiciary when he himself had cases pending against him. “Would it not embarrass the judiciary?”
His address was punctuated with loud slogans by party workers who pledged their ‘unconditional’ support. Gilani said certain quarters were trying in vain to tell the world that he was no longer the prime minister, adding that if that was the case, the United Kingdom would not have received him as one.
“We do not care if you do not accept me. The world acknowledges me, the Constitution recognises me, the people of Pakistan recognise me,” he said in an obvious retort to Nawaz.
Gilani denies Zawahiri presence
Elsewhere, in an interview with British newspaper the Daily Telegraph, Gilani stoutly denied US claims of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri being in Pakistan.
Gilani, who is currently in London to review the progress on the Pak-UK Strategic Dialogue Process, adamantly denied the presence of the al Qaeda kingpin in Pakistan, saying the United States had failed to provide any “actionable evidence” to suggest otherwise.
The premier added that America’s CIA and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency were cooperating closely, saying: “They should work together, and if there is any credible, actionable information, share it with us so that we can catch him.”
When asked for his own view on Zawahiri’s whereabouts, Gilani questioned: “Why should I think he (Zawahiri) is in Pakistan?”
Replying to another question about Jamaat-ud-Dawa leader Hafiz Saeed, the prime minister reiterated that there was insufficient evidence to warrant his arrest.
“(Even) if you arrest him, he will be released as more evidence is needed to convince the courts. You know the judiciary is completely independent in Pakistan.”
Answering a query about the threat Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan’s popularity posed to the ruling party in the upcoming general elections, Gilani said: “In every election, there’s a perception created by the media that he (Imran Khan) will do better than before; but each time he doesn’t. We’ll beat them (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) hands down.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 13th, 2012.
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