ISLAMABAD: Rocked by recurring controversies and scandals, the incumbent government has sent out a loud and clear message to both the opposition and the powerful security establishment.
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said on Wednesday that moving the Supreme Court on the memogate issue was “a conspiracy against parliament.”
However, he said that parliament, media, civil society and world would not accept dictatorship. “We want democracy in the country,” he added.
“Parliament should complete its tenure, not the government, not the prime minister. We are not interested. We won’t mind even sitting on opposition benches, if there is an opposition,” he told the Senate in a fiery speech.
He said that after the emergence of the memogate he summoned then ambassador Husain Haqqani and sought his resignation in the presence of the president, army chief and director general of ISI, for a fair trial, and referred the matter to the Parliamentary Committee on National Security.
“Then it (the memogate) was taken to the Supreme Court. I have no objection. But it is a conspiracy against parliament. The president, along with the National Assembly and the Senate, is part of parliament,” he added.
Premier Gilani regretted that memogate, which was scripted by Pakistani- American businessman Mansoor Ijaz, “a person with no credibility and having a background of even writing against the country’s important institutions and the establishment,” was being taken to the court to reach the person who got it scripted. You can guess what the motive is behind this,” he remarked.
“This is a conspiracy against parliament. What do they want to achieve, what do they want to prove?” Gilani asked rhetorically, and recalled that former prime minister HS Soharwardi had told his (Gilani’s) father that he was being pushed to the wall and it would lead to the dismemberment of the country and it happened when Sheikh Mujeebur Rehman took over the reins of the party.
In the past leaders like Maulana Maudoodi, Wali Khan and Nawab Akbar Bugti were called traitors, he said. “But now this practice should be shunned. God forbid if it is repeated, things can go wrong,” he warned.
Highlighting the importance of democracy for the country’s stability, the prime minister said that abiding by the constitution and law was a must for the country’s solidarity. “If the constitution is not followed, then there are many dangers.” Gilani said that he was the longest serving democratically elected prime minister and would not mind sitting in opposition benches, but Parliament should complete its term. The prime minister said leaders and workers of the Pakistan Peoples Party as well as the opposition had rendered sacrifices for democracy. He urged the parliamentarians to get together to support democracy. If the opposition does not like me, they can bring a no-confidence motion against me, he added.
Similarly, an impeachment motion can be introduced against the president but the rules of business should be followed.
No party enjoyed absolute majority in parliament, he said, but his government, in coalition with PML-Q, MQM, PML-F, Fata and independent lawmakers, has a two-thirds majority. “If I resign today, can you form a government?”
Gilani asked the opposition and warned if democracy was derailed, he did not see elections taking in his life.
He defended his government decision not to privatize ailing public sector entities. “Everything is not corruption, not mismanagement,” he remarked and added the governments with two-thirds majority were charged with corruption in the past and the coming government would also have to face such charges.
The prime minister regretted that dictators like Gen Ayub Khan, Gen Ziaul Haq and Gen Musharraf, who ruled the country for 10 years each, promised to end corruption but formed governments with the help of “corrupt people.”
He asked the lawmakers about the criteria of corruption. “What is the difference between NRO and plea-bargain. Were agreements signed under plea bargain with the looters and plunderers not NRO,” he questioned.
The prime minister said those political leaders, who got themselves cleared through plea-bargains, were made ministers, but the PPP leaders faced cases and did not compromise. “This House should seriously study this situation,” he said and added that the present government was being given deadlines since it came to power some four years back. Regarding the president’s health, he said that Asif Zardari was part of parliament and that every human could become sick. “We convinced the president to go abroad for a complete medical check-up as he had already faced life threats here,” he said.
He said the president even did not inquire after the health of his father at PIMS due to security reasons.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2011.