A defiant Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani landed back in the capital late Sunday night vowing to not back down in the face of political pressure calling for his removal.
Returning to the country for the first time since the Supreme Court released a long awaited detailed order on his contempt case, the prime minister told The Express Tribune that he would soon be consulting his legal team regarding the judgment – and whether they would appeal the verdict or go for a review.
Interestingly, the prime minister did not rule out the possibility of not filing a review or an appeal – giving credence to reports that the government will maintain the line that the conviction would necessarily entail disqualification.
Speaking to The Express Tribune in a brief one-on-one meeting on the flight back to Islamabad from London, the prime minister said he knew that the order would be released when he was in the air. “It’s all in front of you. You can see it for yourself.” Because of this, he said, the courts have been “exposed”.
“I took a stand, and I will continue taking a stand,” he said – adding that the events of the last few weeks had resulted in an outpouring of support for his party.
The result is there for everyone to see, he said, calmly gesturing an upward trend with his hand. He also took the opportunity to reiterate that he would not listen to the verdicts of the “Sharif courts” – referring to the calls by the principal opposition, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), to step down.
He said despite the opposition’s best efforts, he was accorded hospitality and respect during his trip to the UK. The cradle of democracy, he said, had shown confidence in him, voicing satisfaction with the outcome of the state visit.
The prime minister’s five-day trip had generated tremendous controversy back home because of his conviction.
The visit is being seen as successful, given some important meetings and even a joint statement by the prime ministers of Britain and Pakistan.
The joint statement recognised Prime Minister Gilani’s role in reviving democracy and even noted that he had become the longest-serving civilian prime minister in the country’s history. The British prime minister even stated that any enemy of Pakistan is an enemy of Britain and vice versa – a key statement at a time that Pakistan is facing the prospect of isolation from the US and its allies due to the continued closure of Nato supply routes.
Aside from this, Premier Gilani also held some key meetings with investors at the London Stock Exchange and the headquarters of global banking giant Standard Chartered.
There were expectations of big protests in London upon the prime minister’s arrival. However, the protests were muted, and barely visible when they did occur initially.
Reports had it that PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif had asked his party not to create too big a scene in London. The last day of the trip saw a small protest by activists and supporters of Hizbut Tahrir outside the hotel of the prime minister. However, supporters of the Pakistan Peoples Party also showed up in good number to express solidarity with the premier.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 14th, 2012.
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