While former Sindh senior minister Zulfiqar Mirza took a break from his almost daily public haranguing of Interior Minister Rehman Malik, the prime minister has said that Malik has offered himself for a judicial inquiry into Mirza’s allegations against him.
“Malik has faxed me a letter seeking a judicial commission to probe the allegations that Mirza has levelled against him in his series of press conferences,” Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani told newspaper reporters on Sunday at his Lahore residence. “I will decide on Monday whether a judicial inquiry should be launched or not.”
Speaking to reporters in Karachi, Malik confirmed that while he refuses to respond to any of the allegations made, he has requested the prime minister to form a judicial commission to probe into Mirza’s statements.
(Read: Mirza interview - The hits just keep on coming)
“The commission should be headed by a Supreme Court judge and its findings be made public,” Malik said, adding that he will accept the prime minister’s decision whatever it may be.
Army coming to Karachi?
Responding to a question about the Pakistan Army’s recent statement about the situation in Karachi, Gilani said that the army, like all other state institutions, has the right to express its views on the issue. When asked why the army had not approached him before issuing such a statement, he said it was their right to respond to allegations made against them.
However, Gilani’s body language and tone while talking about the army’s statement seemed to indicate that the military was prepared to come to Karachi.
In what seemed an effort to justify the statement, Gilani said that he has publicly said that an operation should be launched in Karachi otherwise another ‘force’ will conduct one.
He also seized the moment as an opportunity to defend Malik, saying that the statement should be taken to contradict Mirza’s claim that Malik had directed him [Mirza] to free captured target killers otherwise the army would topple the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government.
Malik’s letter to the CJ
While he seemed to defend Malik against Mirza, Gilani showed displeasure over reports that Malik had written to the chief justice of Pakistan, recommending the formation of special courts for speedy justice. “Malik is a man who has the right to do as he pleases since he has all the power there can be,” he said sarcastically.
However, in Karachi, Malik denied that he had written any such letter.
Mirza’s political prospects
When asked if he felt that Mirza could rebel against Sindh politics by making a separate group within the PPP’s provincial wing. “We can’t see him going on to make a separate PPP wing or launch a separate party,” he said.
However, he said that everyone should respect Mirza’s principled stance as before voicing his dissent, he resigned from the positions he held as member of the party. He said that Mirza’s party membership had not been revoked yet and he is still a part of the PPP.
Responding to a question about PPP MNA Khurshid Shah’s meeting with leaders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), he said that Shah is the party’s chief whip in the National Assembly and President Zardari has empowered him to look after Sindh’s issues. “Earlier, I had met with Shah and Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan in Islamabad and Shah’s Sunday meeting with the MQM and Dr Ebad was an extension of that meeting,” he said.
He said that if MQM decides to rejoin the government, it will be a positive development as the PPP wants dialogue with all political parties.
(With additional reporting by our correspondent in Karachi)
Published in The Express Tribune, September 5th, 2011.