ISLAMABAD: As the government-judiciary conflict heads towards a potential showdown, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani is adamant not to leave office as the premier who resigned.
“There’s no need to step down. If I’m convicted [of contempt of court], then I’m not supposed to be a member of the parliament,” Gilani said in a wide-ranging interview with Al Jazeera television, which was broadcast on Saturday.
The prime minister was responding to a question on whether he would resign for the sake of President Asif Ali Zardari, whose riches from alleged corruption are at the centre of the matter. Gilani, through his counsel Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, is pleading that he is not in contempt of court for failing to comply with the Supreme Court’s orders to write a letter to Swiss authorities in the National Reconciliation Ordinance case.
“There had been a lot of cases against him, and they were all politically motivated,” Gilani said, referring to Zardari. “He has got immunity. And he has not got immunity only in Pakistan, he has transnational immunity, even all over the world.”
Gilani is due to appear before the court on February 13 to hear whether he is found guilty of contempt.
Speaking about his relations with the army, the prime minister said that he had “good relations” with the military “at the moment”. That has not been the case recently, as Gilani made a statement in China that was perceived as criticism of the military, prompting the Pakistan Army to issue a stern response and even ask the prime minister to “apologise”, according to some reports.
The prime minister categorically stated that authorities in Islamabad have never approved US drone strikes. “I want to inform you that we did not allow or give permission to fly drones from Pakistan, he said. “Number two, drones are counterproductive. And we had discussed thoroughly with the US administration that we at times make a lot of efforts to very successfully isolate militants from the local tribes.”
Drone attacks generate a negative reaction, he said, with tribesmen in areas bordering Afghanistan. “Then the local tribes and the militants, they get united again,” he said. “They make our jobs extremely difficult. Then there is less political space for us.”
Pakistan, Gilani said, backed any Afghan-led plan to establish peace in the neighbouring country and in no way supported Taliban insurgents.
“We are not supporting them. It’s not our job. Why should we support them?”
Gilani also said that regional rivals India and Pakistan could not afford more conflict and were ready to discuss the issues that have long hampered the normalisation of bilateral relations.
“We have agreed to discuss all our core issues, including the issue of Kashmir,” he said.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of the story quoted the prime minister as saying that he will step down if convicted. However, he had said that he will not need to step down as he will automatically lose the premiership if held in contempt of court. The error is regretted.
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As now you have been convicted with contempt of court.Now resign from Premiership voluntarily and make/declare yourself democratic/political hero and martyr before the nation and try to regain the soft corner once again in the nation's heart instead of appealing in the Supreme Court against the conviction orders.
We are waiting for this great time When u leave Office & when that Zardari is GONE
He should step down, because if he does it without any influence from external threat- if he is indicted then he would be dismissed from his job and then you all know Zardari will bring him back...but if he steps down at his own will then he might never go back on to that position again
After this case is over one way or the other and Memogate taking its last breaths, what else does PCO SC have against the elected govt? All these unelected generals and judges keep getting extensions after extensions and think it is their right to rule, not the people's mandate. No wonder there is so much hatred toward democracy perpetuated by the mullah/military/judiciary alliance. Currently three chief justices of various HC and full SC is busy only in cases against the govt. The other cases are all have no importance. Just like the restoration of CJ has solved all the problems of poor Pakistanis, the removal of PM would take care of all the problems of poor citizens.
He said "if convicted" not if charged; huge difference not just semantics.
Great leader? Is interview with al jaz he couldnt put a sentance together and blatently avoiding toanwer about zardari he was corrupt or not pathetic
@A: Let's get out of the "should have would have" mode. Where do we go from here. That is the question. We should know how to frame an argument. He's finally doing the right thing by saying he will accept the punishment. How much blaming and how much punishment is enogh? We have to stop somewhere. Too much vindictiveness will make the accuser lose any appearance of being reasonable.
If he gets what he deserves to get, it will be a momentous day for Pakistan
He should have been dismissed ages ago but better late than never.
Lot of confusion has been created by mincing words and try to make the same ludicurious Best course would and is to follow the rules.If government does not follow what does it want to do??Who does not know what is happening daily under the garb of various posts held??No one seems to be afraid and are on the neck of the poor masses?? Let rules be followed and PM is on his own choice opting for the Final, knowingly what he is doing.Pray for thre best
@Simply Sane: People would have acknowledge if the government has written the letter to swiss authorities. This would have shown rule of the law and true implementation of the SC's verdict.
@A: Very respectfully: you missed my point, which is even after he has been punished for committing the 'sin' you pointed out, they will not acknowledge anything and will continue to condemn him. You just confirmed my point. Thank you.
@ A: Should not we honour the constitution that grants immunity to the office of president? A letter will be written when zardari does not remain the president. NRO must not be supported at all. Government is already implementing the NRO verdict of the SC barring clause relating to Zardari.
@Maroof: Constitution does not grant immunity in civil cases. and this is cases is in civil nature.
@Maroof: The Swiss courts (an independent authority) has charged Zardari in money loundary case. How can anyone support an ordinance(NRO) passed by a dictator. If the governement is truly democratic then they should write the letter.
@ A: What if constitution grants immunity to the sitting president? Zardari was in jail for whole 11 years during the all mighty government of musharaf. could a single case be established against him? Writing a letter wont do wonders in curbing corruption in pakistan.
@Tas: The SC is putting every effort to combat corruption. The main problem faced by a common man.
@Simply Sane: As the head of the government he should have written the letter to swiss authorities. This would have helped Pakistan in combating corruption.
@Maroof: Two wrongs don't make a right. If anyone is doing corruption should not allow them to do it too.
The dilemma facing PPP leaders as always is: Damned if you do it, damned if you don't. That's a reflection on the sense of "unfairness" that transcends our Pakistani society esp. The so-called "civil society". I have yet to figure out whats so civil about their thought processes. Even if he accepts the decision and bows out gracefully, some of the biggest talking heads on the news channels will find "creative" ways of incessantly disgracing the by then ex-PM.
@ Haseeb: what about the Generals who dismantled the constitution beyond recognition and go Scot-free? Shouldn't supreme court hold them accountable??
These are not just allegations. The Swiss Courts had also indicted him for money laundering.
We did not wish to have the judges who only guarded the interests of the military Generals. But we wanted the Judges who upheld the constitution and worked for the interest of people at large. I feel ashamed to have such a military in the cover of an independent judiciary....disappointed with chaudhary and his team.
Historically, judiciary in pakistan has always done the biding of military establishment. Therefore, it is no surprise that PM Gillani is going to be indicted tomorrow. The judiciary had already made the mind and paid no heed to the arguments presented in defence of PM. Its is high time that the judiciary be publicly lambasted for its biased decisions against elected governments, particularly Pakistan Peoples Party.
Peoples Part proved that it over all believes in the supermacy of law, yes they have made blunders in implementing SC orders but given Pakistan's culture of politics and how cases are made. I stand with PPP on this for offering the head of PM
What is more important? Loyal to the country or loyal to the party?
If he was loyal to the country as his cheerleaders keep chanting, then he should have resigned already.
Sometimes, I just feel sorry for this guy.
I admire his spin & guts which is a rare commodity in the political class
Gilani has shown that he is more loyal to Pakistan than many a general or politician. Spoken like a gentleman who respects the constitution and rule of law.
His party will cry - "Siyasi Shaheed"!
@Hataf: He has proven his loyalty to his party no doubt. His loyalty to the country is another question! Although Zardari might just use his Presidential powers to pardon any conviction against Gilani. So as far as the common Pakistani goes, the grind will go on.
@Ben: So true and aptly summarized, but who cares.
Finally some sensible statement fro our primeminister
Thank you Mr. PM......please do so.....also kindly stay in Pakistan after stepping down so that the people can make you accountable for the loot and plunder under your nose over the last 4 years....
Prime Minister Gilani can exhaust all the legal procedures before his conviction is final. It could take months if not years. Meanwhile he stays in office until the next general elections in 2013. If his party loses, he will have to step down anyway.
Ya, as we believe what you say :)
If SC awards punishment and PM sticks to his words! it will be an unprecedented, most appopriate and exemplary action in the history of our nation. It should shut the mouths that undermind the creditability of the politicians but I am sure these mouths will bring new absurd stories matching their interests. It will be a brave dicision & action and victory of morals, ethical values, the spirit of democracy and rule of a law. There is a lot of talk about "Political Shadat" whcih is rubish and big source of earning (hefty wealths) for the anchers & media persons and a hollow slogan of shallow ploiticians. Mr. Gilani if you do what are you saying it will uplohd the values of dignity, respect and honour for which you will be respected by the independent honest ones and of cources be remebered in the golden words by the historians. Peshawary
I hope you will be true to your words this time Mr. Gillani.
If he really sticks to his decision will be good for the country as well for PP. Sacrfice always results in favourable sentiments. Elections are on the door and PP can get tremendous boost due to it. So Mr PM if you are convicted please go ahead with resignation and set an honorable but entirely different example.
Thats called LEADERS, we all are with you.
PM Gilani is showing the 'Sportsman Spirit' even before the umpire gives his decision.
In case if PM Gilinai is indicted in the Swiss Case, the Supreme Court will not only ask him to resign from Premiership, but will also disqualify him from being member of the National Assembly.
Perhaps we will not need you to voluntarily 'step down'. Once convicted, you will be forced to 'step down'...