The already defiant prime minister appeared more confident after resolutions in his support were passed by parliament.
Just after the National Assembly and the Senate passed the resolutions, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani met journalists and clarified that his party is not looking for any successor and that he will continue as prime minister.
“We have no alternative plans. Declining to write a letter to Swiss (authorities) is not a criminal offence. Just as the President enjoys immunity under article 248 of the constitution, the prime minister also has complete and absolute immunity under article 248-1. My case is not a criminal case, nor was I facing any moral or corruption charges,” Gilani repeatedly said in response to several questions.
Gilani also criticised the Supreme Court for not issuing a detailed judgment on the day he was given the 32 second punishment.
“I appeared before the court thrice. At the last hearing I was expecting a detailed judgment but a short order was issued instead, to keep the nation in suspicion,” a confident Gilani remarked. He once again emphasised that under ‘no circumstances’ does this conviction lead to his disqualification.
He said all those constitutional clauses that grant immunity to the president and the prime minister for doing any act in good faith, stand fully operational, as even the opposition did not propose any amendment when 18th, 19th and 20th amendments were passed. On resolutions for bifurcation of Punjab and creation of a separate Seraiki province, Gilani said it showed the intent of the political leadership of the country. He said a similar resolution will be moved in the Punjab Assembly as well to garner support for a Seraiki province.
On the question of relations between Pakistan and the US and resumption of Nato supplies, Gilani said different groups of the two countries were working in light of recommendations passed by the parliament last month.
He did not rule out Pakistan’s participation in a Nato summit in Chicago later this month, provided the issues with the US are settled before conference.
Gilani skipped a question on the statement of his defence minister about Pakistan’s cooperation in tracking down al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, saying that he has not read the statement and the matter was subjudice before a commission.
However, he said American and Pakistani spy agencies have been cooperating with each other and all high value al Qaeda targets could be reached due to cooperation between the ISI and CIA. He said if Pakistan is given credible information it will take action against terrorist targets.
Gilani said the government will come up with some important welfare policies in the forthcoming budget; including no new taxes, settlement of electricity crises, creation of 100,000 new jobs for youth, relief to agriculture sector and support to the poor through the Benazir Income Support Programme.
SC verdict on power project
Gilani said the scrapping of international agreements on rental power projects on the orders of Supreme Court will have serious consequences, adding that legal teams from relevant ministries were analysing the impact of these decisions.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2012.