ON BOARD PM’S AIRCRAFT:
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Tuesday said that he would not be coerced into stepping down through unconstitutional means, and would exhaust all means to have a fair trial.
“I have no yearning to stick to power, but I will take it to finality and exhaust all avenues,” Gilani told a group of journalists accompanying him to the United Kingdom on a five-day visit. He said the Constitution has explicitly spelt out ways to remove a prime minister and no one can force him out.
He was asked about the stance taken by him on the issue of non-implementation of the Supreme Court’s order and the subsequent conviction for contempt.
Gilani said all his decisions were in line with the Constitution. He said he believed that under Article 248 (1), he enjoyed complete immunity and he only did what he thought was the right thing. “I took all decisions to the best of my abilities and in line with the rules and procedures, and in good faith,” he said. “I am proud that I fought for the Constitution of Pakistan.”
The premier said his coalition government enjoyed two-thirds majority in parliament and its partners stood by it through thick and thin. “Why should I fear those who are against the Constitution,” he added.
He said the matter of his disqualification or not would go to the National Assembly speaker and finally to the chief election commissioner. “But we must also see what happened to the decision taken by the Election Commission against Waheeda Shah, who has disqualified, but the Sindh High Court stayed the decision,” the premier added.
Gilani also dismissed the campaign launched against him by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and said they were merely playing to the galleries. “If they are genuinely interested that I move out of the way, they have to resign from the assemblies, and join Imran Khan and others. There is no other way.”
He said if the PML-N and others join hands, only then they might be able to have some impact. “But if they are not together, there is a real threat (for them) that I might be back in power,” he said.
Gilani said he was hurt by the language used by the PML-N leaders against him and said the Pakistan Peoples Party never reacted in the same way. He said even though Nawaz Sharif got a nine-year sentence and had to stay out of the country, yet this was never played up by the ruling party.
About the long march against the government, Gilani warned that if one of the federating unit launches a movement against another, it was tantamount to be an act of treason.
Regarding the Siraiki province, he said any measures to stop the demand can create a movement against the Punjab government. He also mentioned the turnout figures of some recent protest marches and showed a visible surprise over the low turnout.
Asked whether he saw any threat to his government from Rawalpindi, Gilani said there was now an atmosphere in the country that favoured democracy and would not support any misadventure, as the people, the media and the international community all stood for a democratic system.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2012.