CNN interview: PM Gilani’s political faux pas

Published: May 12, 2012

While political faux pas are not unusual in Pakistan, the country’s prime minister’s recent comments take the cake – and were, funnily enough, reminiscent of the phrase “let them eat cake” made popular by French monarch Marie Antoinette.

In an interview during his five-day visit to London, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani left CNN’s Becky Anderson literally at a loss for words.

When asked about the latest Gallup poll which suggests that one-fifth of Pakistanis want to leave the country, the premier didn’t hesitate to respond: “Why don’t they just leave then”.

The matter-of-fact response was followed by, “Who’s stopping them?”

While his comments were followed by an apparent awkward silence between the interviewer and interviewee, the CNN interview clip has gone viral on the internet by fervent tweeters and bloggers.

The rest of the interview was less improvised, with the premier defending his contempt conviction and his country’s stance on drone strikes being counter-productive.

When asked, twice, if he would resign, Prime Minister Gilani said: “If
I am disqualified and notified by the [National Assembly] speaker, then yes, I will have to.”

When asked how he feels about US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s remarks that Pakistan needed to do more to fight terrorism, the premier stated: “It’s now time for them to do more”.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (40)

  • Mirza
    May 12, 2012 - 11:29AM

    Years ago when the US immigration was awarded via lottery how many Pakistanis had applied? How many Pakistanis die or get long jail terms but still take illegal visas and boats to the Gulf States? In fact this is one of the main reasons that most countries regard every Pakistani visitor as a potential economic refugee. How many people use Hajj and Umra as an excuse to go and live illegally in S. Arabia despite a harsh crackdown? This is not a new phenomenon and economic refugees from Pakistan and other poor countries do anything to get out for a better future. In fact each Pakistani govt wants more and more people go overseas as their income back home is the largest source of foreign exchange.


  • John B
    May 12, 2012 - 11:47AM

    Wow! About 40 million people want to leave PAK for good ( where ?) and the PM says fantastic. Perhaps he did not understand the question, like the Swiss letter?

    “it is time for them to do more” response suggests that all is not going well in US-PAK dialogue.


  • Imran Con
    May 12, 2012 - 12:30PM

    “It’s now time for them to do more”
    That’s another subtle blunder. Not only is it not actually an answer to the question, it doesn’t make sense in the context. He dodged having to answer it but I have no idea how.


  • Zunaib Yousuf
    May 12, 2012 - 1:17PM

    And what difference are we expecting here ??? Nothing is gonna happen … he is gonna come with wide chest and will say yeah so what … they don’t regret at all saying anything like this … their own cabinet member once said if I recall right, “Corruption pe sab ka haq hai”

    they think this country a kingdom they inherited from their ancestors and they think they can rule it however they want and truth be said they are not wrong because until the dead nation or careless nation like us is there these people would always prosper


  • Haider
    May 12, 2012 - 1:49PM

    This is their country only! of Gilani’s, Qureshis, Shaikhs, Zardaris, Sharifs… they want everybody elese to leave the country as they enjoy full freedom, a mile long security squad, VVVIP protocol.. their kids becomes the most previlaged specie.. Recommend

  • Mo Sheikh
    May 12, 2012 - 2:13PM

    I wonder how one-third of the Pakistanis that want to leave the country will actually leave the country. With stringent visa policies and impossible-to-achieve immigration programs in place, how can a common man manage to leave the country. Mr. Gillani and his party love to fire in the air (more commonly known as hawai-fire), and with the current situation in the country, I don’t think anyone wants to live here.

    Perhaps if Mr. Gillani can arrange for these one-third Pakistanis to leave the country, I’d be the first one to jump the ship!


  • Fahad
    May 12, 2012 - 2:49PM

    Please go and see Imran Khan’s interviews with CNN/BBC on youtube and see how different they are from Mr. Gilani’s nervous interviews with rubbish answers. Our nation will be respected much more if IK is our prime minister, I cant expect the outside world to respect us after they see interviews like this


  • Animal Planet
    May 12, 2012 - 3:04PM

    forget imran khan.. go back to 2005-2007.. where times were good.. Could an anchor pull this off with musharraf… i would take dictatorship with a sprinkle of imran khan any day over the current set up…


  • Parvez
    May 12, 2012 - 3:20PM

    Lets not forget Musharraf’s blunder on women and visas to Canada. Possibly our leaders as so used to talking rubbish at home that they forget they are addressing an international audience.


  • ishtiaq
    May 12, 2012 - 4:05PM

    Lost for words! Shouldn’t be surprised ….I guess?!! All Kashmiri and Pakitani expats should wake up, take note and “integrate” in their adopted countries! You are clearly not wlecome to your motherland!!


  • H.A. Khan
    May 12, 2012 - 6:32PM

    PM Gilani should be ashamed of himself for making this statement


  • Waqar Murtaza
    May 12, 2012 - 6:55PM

    Just a correction, the Gallop Polls stated that 1/3rd of the Pakistanis wants to leave the Country due to dysfunctional government. 1/5th is the number of People in support of PPP i.e. 20% of the population is satisfied with the current government.


  • Hassan
    May 12, 2012 - 7:19PM

    If Imran Khan had been giving interview to Becky Anderson instead of Yousaf Raza Gillani then he would have smashed it and defended Pakistan’s dignity! Recommend

  • apj
    May 12, 2012 - 8:13PM

    The interview was an utter embarrassment for the nation. Btw, whose stopped him from leaving Pak,Recommend

  • LionOfPunjab
    May 12, 2012 - 8:25PM

    @Animal Planet
    “forget imran khan.. go back to 2005-2007.. where times were good.. Could an anchor pull this off with musharraf… i would take dictatorship with a sprinkle of imran khan any day over the current set up…

    yah! Same commando mushy who said “some women in pakistan get intentionally raped to get VISAs to usa & canada”


  • haris
    May 12, 2012 - 9:03PM

    Are you supporting his statement or you are trying to give another meaning of it?
    I literally don’t understand how are you justifying an answer from premier who made me silenced when I watched that interview.


  • Rao
    May 12, 2012 - 9:23PM

    PM failed to understand the questions and answered what ever he memorized.


  • usman
    May 12, 2012 - 10:41PM

    Imran Khan was asked similar questions by a foreign journalist and this is how he responded, I don’t need to add a word to this –


  • umer
    May 13, 2012 - 12:30AM

    im no fan of him or the current govt. but that was a good response. let them leave, whos stopping them?


  • OH BOY!
    May 13, 2012 - 2:16AM

    no one would have asked this question had Imran Khan been in the seat and interviewed as one fifth Pakistani population WOULDNT have deemed it necessary to flee the country to begin with.


  • Sky
    May 13, 2012 - 3:39AM

    Here is the difference. Imran khan wants to improve the country to the point that all Pakistanis living out of the country can contribute e or come back . Giliani you lost it there. Stay away from interviews coz you always blow them .


  • Animal Planet
    May 13, 2012 - 3:49AM

    @(lion of punjab.. PMLN supporter).. musharraf may have made mistakes.. but on the whole was far better at handling the media.. then nawaz or any ppp leader.. only one who can currently come close to his ability in speaking is imran khan..


  • gp65
    May 13, 2012 - 5:07AM

    @umer: “im no fan of him or the current govt. but that was a good response. let them leave, whos stopping them?”

    Really? It was calous at best. HE knows perfectly well that people do not get visas. Even after selling property and paying lakhs to touts to get to countries like Grece and Turkey many are sent back every month. Some try to get smuggled as human cargo and even die in the process. As mentioned in thearticle, this answer was as callous as Marie Antoinette’s when she said ‘Let them eat cake’ when informed that there were bread riots. She was however a 14 year old child when she said that. Not so. Mr. Gilani.


  • Arshed Bhatti
    May 13, 2012 - 8:13AM

    I think this was excellent rebuff by the PM. Most of us know the way such polls are conducted & carried out! They call a couple-of-thousand urban, English speaking respondents and take their responses as representing the collective voice of 180 millions. The PM did understand the question well, and did know the farce in the garb of polls; so his answer is more of calling a bluff of the polls than anything else.


  • May 13, 2012 - 9:04AM

    It was not faux pas it was Parapraxis.


  • Khalid Mahmood
    May 13, 2012 - 10:38AM

    Gilani’s statement about one-fifth of Pakistanis wanting to leave the country to the effect: “Why don’t they just leave then”. “Who’s stopping them?” shows utter disdainful/callous disregard for the people of Pakistan by the present PPP/Zardari/Government!


  • Mohammed Hassanali
    May 13, 2012 - 12:43PM

    Nothing surprises me anymore be it any politicians or military leaders of Pakistan apart from some rare exception.


  • Ahsan Raza
    May 13, 2012 - 4:30PM

    People ought to be ashamed of themselves. Those who are trying to justify and validate what Gillani said. Do you people have Moral compass ?


  • maroof
    May 13, 2012 - 7:37PM

    No problem Mr. gilani, PTI will come and you will have to leave, not the nation. who are you to suggest so


  • curious
    May 14, 2012 - 6:47AM

    i’m telling you, when inshallah IMRAN KHAN comes to power, people will WANT to COME BACK!


  • BLing BLing
    May 14, 2012 - 8:25AM

    After watching Gilani’s response, everybody wants to themselves in Pakistan, according to the latest poll.


  • Anonymous
    May 14, 2012 - 5:46PM

    If he can’t defend him, how can he defend or represent a country.


  • jz
    May 14, 2012 - 8:06PM

    What a shame that we bring to our self as a Pakistani nation… is that a reality check for us ? why dont we leave? is that what we ask for ? this PM? .. i wonder how do they sleep at night… is there anything called integrity they are familiar with? .. . what a shame … with capital S.. Recommend

  • Cannot understand
    May 14, 2012 - 8:14PM

    Either he is stupid enough not to understand the question or arrogant enough to answer the way he did..


  • Khalq e Khuda
    May 15, 2012 - 8:07PM

    Gillani’s reply was shameless and an outright disgrace but perhaps he thought when a judge get praised for humiliating the entire nation he should follow suit; little did he know people of Pakistan have double standards.


  • Lost doc
    May 16, 2012 - 1:09AM

    10 years ago this might not even be a news ! All the comment above is sign of changing Pakistan. He and his party will be perfect for the ” shamless “.Recommend

  • naeem majid
    May 17, 2012 - 3:23PM

    This PM reminds me of the comical Indian character played by Peter Sellers in the movie Party.


  • kashif
    May 18, 2012 - 11:53AM

    why not dispatch all the politician to Mars or elsewhere. Why not 0.000002% of our population should leave rather than 20%. No doubt ” Democracy is the best revenge against the Demos of Pakistan”


  • Nasir
    May 19, 2012 - 1:50AM

    What other evidence does the Pakistani nation want not to tolerate such corrupt goofs any more? Its high time to vote for an educated, bold, honest and proud Pakistani hero like Imran Khan!


  • May 20, 2012 - 4:25PM

    So…..why the top comment have got so many thumbs up?? Doesn’t make any sense…


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