LAHORE: Former premier Yousaf Raza Gilani has warned that the country would risk division if his successor was also sacked.
Raja Pervaiz Ashraf – who took over after Gilani was disqualified by the apex court for contempt of court – faces a similar fate for his refusal to write to the Swiss authorities to reopen a dormant graft case against President Asif Ali Zardari.
Speaking at a news conference on Sunday, the former premier reiterated the ruling party’s policy vis-à-vis the Swiss letter. The PPP contends that writing the Swiss letter against the president is unconstitutional.
“If the incumbent premier is also sent packing by the court, we will not accept such an unconstitutional decision,” he added. “I warn the judiciary to rectify its fault and review its judgment on the NRO implementation.”
He warned the judiciary of street protests if Premier Ashraf was disqualified.
“We will resist the move, and will take the matter to the people of Pakistan,” he added.
Referring to his disqualification, the former premier said that he had sacrificed his job to protect the Constitution and save democracy. “This time around, if the judiciary sacks Pervaiz Ashraf, the country will risk dismemberment,” he said in an ominous warning.
Appearance of Ashraf
Asked if Premier Ashraf should appear before the apex court on August 27 to reply to a contempt of the court notice, Gilani said, “Although it’s useless, but it’s Asharf’s prerogative to appear or not.”
The former premier recalled that he had appeared before the court out of respect – but the judiciary did not reciprocate his move.
Fair elections jeopardised
Gilani said the present judiciary has jeopardised the holding of free and fair elections. Next elections will be held as per schedule – but they are linked with the stability of the incumbent PPP government,” he added. “It’s a matter of three or four months, so the judiciary should have patience.”
Hitting out at opposition
In a diatribe against the opposition, Gilani said the track record of Nawaz Sharif, the PML-N chief, shows that he always came to power with the support of the ‘third force’.
Though Gilani did not explain what he meant by ‘third force’ – he appeared to be referring to the military establishment.
The former premier claimed that Nawaz wanted postponement of the next general elections.
“Sharif’s recent statement that his party would resist postponement of the election was in fact a message for the PPP that the PML-N wanted the vote to be delayed,” added Gilani.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2012.