ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday threw his weight behind Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani against any attempts to destabilize his government after the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) quit the ruling coalition.
"(Zardari) has full confidence in Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and solidly stands behind him in foiling any attempt to destabilise the coalition government," presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said in a statement.
Earlier, Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani and Pakistan Muslim League - Quaid (PML-Q) chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain had jointly stressed that they do not want to derail democracy.
Both the parties’ leaders said they wanted to resolve people’s problems and focus on national issues and that they want to strengthen institutions in the country.
Gilani, seeming visibly relaxed, said that political leaders need to prove their political maturity by focusing on issue-oriented politics, saying that both parties agree on the need to strengthen the parliament, judiciary and democracy.
The PML-Q chief said that he supported Gilani, stressing that issues such as reformed General Sales Tax (RGST) and inflation were important and that his party was not trying to blackmail the prime minister. He said that he will consult with his party leaders before making any other statement.
Punjab CM meets Gilani
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif also met the prime minister before his meeting with PML-Q. The two leaders met at Shahbaz’s residence in Lahore.
Shahbaz claimed that his party, the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) will not become part of any conspiracy to remove the government from the centre, asserting that the PML-N will not take any decision to hurt democracy.
Both leaders agreed that political instability in the country should not be allowed and agreed to work together to strengthen democracy in the country.
Referring to the MQM, Gilani said that if someone leaves the government, the PPP would try to remove their grievances.
Shahbaz also briefed the prime ministers about his visit to Turkey.
PML-Q, JUI-F hold meeting in Lahore
Earlier, PML-Q and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) held a meeting to discuss their future course of action. Addressing a press conference after the meeting with Chaudhry Shujaat, JUI-F leader Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidri demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Gilani saying that it was better for him to resign with all his cabinet.
The prime minister’s meetings today were described as a desperate bid to shore up support and make new allies following the MQM’s announcement of its defection to the opposition benches in the Senate and the National Assembly, which has stripped the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) of its already slender majority in the parliament.
The ruling PPP has 125 members in the National Assembly, 47 short of a simple majority to keep the government in office. It has support from Awami National Party (ANP) with 13 lawmakers, five from the Pir Pagara-led Functional League and around 17 independent members. The PPP needs at least 12 seats to survive in the center.
Gilani also faces an imminent no-confidence motion in the National Assembly, forcing the PPP to look for new allies.