From vociferously railing against threats to the democratic set-up, to insisting there is no clash of institutions, the prime minister has made a spectacular about-turn within a week.
A day after his marathon meeting with the army chief, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said there was no clash among the institutions because both, the judiciary and the army, did not want derailment of the democratic system.
In an attempt to dispel the impression of a confrontation between the military and the executive, the premier, at an informal interaction with journalists at his office, insisted that “the military and its intelligence wing are subservient” to him.
‘No clash of institutions’
Earlier, at Friday’s meeting of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party’s parliamentary party, sources say the premier had noted with dismay that army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha had submitted their replies in the Memogate case directly to the Supreme Court.
Officially, however, the premier made it appear as an operational problem.
“Since the army and ISI chiefs work under the government, their replies were routed through the ministry of defence and the office of the attorney general of Pakistan,” he told a questioner.
He admitted that it was a grave mistake on his part to not stay in touch with military quarters over the replies submitted by the army and intelligence chiefs.
He said he believed the two institutions were on the same page with the government over the need for the continuation of democracy in the country.
“Both the army and the judiciary are pro-democracy, and I am confident that they do not want derailment of the system since it takes years to put a system back on the track,” Gilani said.
For all talk of subservience, the premier was caught off-guard when asked if Gen Pasha travelled to some Arab states, as was claimed by Ijaz, with his consent. “Don’t investigate me,” was his terse reply.
Gilani also disclosed that during the course of his meeting with Gen Kayani on Friday, he received a phone call from President Asif Ali Zardari and the army chief spoke to the president to enquire about his health.
Gilani also attempted to downplay the Memogate controversy.
“After the statement of (former US national security adviser) James Jones, this issue should be buried once and for all,” Gilani said. “It’s a trivial issue for me, but I would still say that we have nothing to do with Mansoor Ijaz (the Pakistani-American at the centre of the controversy) and his false statements,” he said.
He said he took up the matter and ordered necessary action only to satisfy the opposition, but added that moving the apex court on this issue is ‘an attempt to derail democracy.’
Relationship with US
Referring to his meeting with US Ambassador Cameron Munter on Thursday, Gilani said he wants “a relationship (with US) on a permanent basis, not verbally.”
“It’s not possible for me to give them a word that the relationship will be back on track, like it was before November 26,” Gilani said.
He added that the Americans would have to wait for the recommendations of the parliamentary committee on national security which has been tasked with reviewing the terms of engagement with the US. “We expect them to respect our parliament and its resolutions the way they respect their Congress,” the premier said.
Gilani also talked about ‘political changes’ in the country.
Referring to Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, though not by name, the premier called it an effort to make arrangements for a new ‘king’s party,’ the way former dictator Pervez Musharraf had done during his rule.
Gilani also criticised the ‘turncoats of PPP’ and predicted that the same old face would be sitting in the next parliament.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 18th, 2011.