ISLAMABAD: Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik in an interview to the Indian news channel, New Delhi Television (NDTV) said that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, after having been backed by the National Assembly, will not be resigning.
Speaking to NDTV correspondent, Barkha Dutt in Islamabad, Malik said that there was no clash of institutions in Pakistan, though this was an impression being created in the media. He added that the Prime Minister will be appearing before the Supreme Court on January 19 and answer the contempt of court notice against him. Malik added that this will not be the end of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) led government, nor the Premier.
Malik said that the current government had gone beyond previous ones, completing four years in power despite ‘turmoil’. “With the history of Pakistan, normally the government does not cross three years. And, Alhamdulillah, we have done four years with all this turmoil, in your words, but I say that with the difference of opinion, difference of opinion with our political opponents ,” he said.
He added that they had the legitimate mandate for government, “voice of the people of Pakistan has already given us five years. Nobody has right politically, morally to ask us to resign, or even to think about it, to ask to leave before five years.” Malik continued, saying the Opposition, though, was trying its best to topple the government, “Well, the political opponent will keep undoing it. They will keep on doing these things.”
The Interior Minister thwarted rumours that Gilani being summoned before the judicial commission could spell the end of his term. “Prime Minister Gilani is not going to resign. The whole party has backed him yesterday and the people of Pakistan are behind him. So, I think, that all these rumours are after all rumours.” He suggested that those expecting fireworks on January 19 too would be disappointed, “They will be frustrated on Thursday and, of course, it is a process.”
NAB is independent, but the President has immunity
Malik categorically stated that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) – given under the Law ministry by the incumbent government, was free of influence from the Prime Minister, and hence the NAB was free to write a letter to the Swiss Courts.
“Now the question arises, writing a letter. Now this is up to the NAB, but of course the stand of our party is that the main accused in this case was Benazir Bhutto and Madam Nusrat Bhutto. Now, both are no more in this world. Now, when the main accused is dead, automatically the case is gone,” he said.
He concluded that since the NAB was neither within his office’s jurisdiction or the Prime Minister’s, the prerogative lay with the Chairman NAB to write the letters to Swiss courts. “Because NAB is not under me. So it’s going to be the whole, sole prerogative of the Chairman, NAB. The decision is going to be theirs.”
Malik continued that under the Constitution of Pakistan the President enjoyed immunity, and as per the Swiss Attorney General, the case could not proceed till Zardari was President. “And they [Swiss authorities] have already said that ‘Your President stands immune to that. Because of the immunity we will not move forward.”
Mansoor Ijaz too needs to be questioned
Regarding Mansoor Ijaz and the memogate case, Malik said that given the Pakistani-American had spoken ill of the Pakistan army, ISI and about how he had brought down Benazir Bhutto’s government, and that he must stand to answer about these as well when facing the commission.
“He has to explain, number one, on whose behalf did he actually write so much against our agencies who are fighting a war on terror . . . helping Pakistan? Number two, in a very, very firm way he stated that he was the one who had Benazir’s first government thrown out of power. The Pakistan Peoples Party workers are asking that how can he be that powerful that he can overthrow an elected Prime Minister of a country?”
Malik continued that his team was investigating who were the characters with him and that material collected will be examined. He added, in context to pressing charges of treason that examining, registering a case, and arresting Ijaz were all different things.
The Interior Minister added that the ISI was trying to clarify the situation, “as far as the ISI are concerned, and them believing in him, I don’t think so. If it is so, he has written so much against the ISI and the Military, do you think they are going to believe? No. In fact ISI is trying to clear the situation.”
Discrediting the memo, Malik said that the memo was a fabrication. “There is an allegation, there is a report, where an Ambassador of a country has been implicated. Now I do not want to say much on it but let me assure you that at the end of the day, you will see this Memogate being nothing but a fabrication to build up a story.”
Malik went on to say that there were family members of Ijaz who were willing to speak up against him. “Some [family] members of the gentleman have approached us from New York.”
No clash of institutions
Malik, describing the current situation in Pakistan as a transition towards democracy, he said “We [government, army, institutions] are all working on one same page. But if the media wants to make good news out of, they want to create bad news, but I think we are going through a transition, both in the media and as a democracy, and in many institutions.”
Describing it a difference of opinion, he added that “Army is doing its job, the Supreme Court is doing its job, the executives are doing their job. Yes there, is a difference of opinion, but that difference of opinion should not be termed as a clash.”
No coup in the country
Dismissing rumours of a coup, Malik said that “as far as my knowledge goes, my interaction with all stakeholders, I can assure you that there is going to be no coup in the country.”
Regarding the unceremonial dismissal of the Defence Secretary, he explained that “in his [Prime Minister Gilani’s] judgment, if a Secretary has not obeyed what he was supposed to do, or if somebody has not observed procedure, so he has taken action according to the powers vested in him.”
Malik deflected the suggestion that Prime Minister Gilani’s statement that “there could not be a state within a state” was directed at the army. “No, I think the inference can be drawn to anything.”
Relations with India and progress on cross border cases
Talking about the relations between India and Pakistan, Malik said that relations had progressed well.
“We have started this dialogue and it has progressed very well. And therefore, the momentum should not be broken. It should continue with the same spirit, with the same determination, because I feel that friendship between India and Pakistan will lead to prosperity in both the countries.”
Regarding the joint commission investigating the Mumbai attack case, and the hurdles and delays faced, Malik said that “I have already given my commitment to Indian authorities, that within one week from the date that has been intimated to us, we will immediately send our Judicial Commission there. “
When asked whether he was frustrated by delays regarding cases, Malik said that “the delay is not on our part. The delay is because of judicial procedure, which is of course cumbersome.”
The Interior Minister suggested that ties between the two countries should focus on a visa regime allowing easier access to people on both sides of the border, “I think that we should be working more towards visas. People from both sides face problems at the moment.”
Malik even suggested that ties between India and Pakistan should be such that the Prime Ministers of both countries could frequent each other’s country to have informal dinner with their counterpart.
“Why should we become so bureaucratic that everything has to go through so many channels? Why shouldn’t the Prime Minister of India one day decide to come and have dinner with Prime Minister Gilani and vice versa.”
Regarding the Most Favoured Nation status, Malik denied that the matter had stalled, however there were a number people concerned about issues like Kashmir and the water issue. “There are a number of other issues. Now, what is important is that, in the given situation, what has been decided has to go forward.”
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