ISLAMABAD, May 21: Beleaguered as he is, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani could not have asked for more than receiving appreciation from his Turkish counterpart for thriving democracy in Pakistan and undivided attention from a joint sitting of the two houses of parliament during his speech. The visiting Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had been invited to address the joint sitting on Monday.
In current circumstances when there were increasing calls by opposition parties for his resignation following his conviction by the Supreme Court in contempt case, the Turkish prime minister’s visit is virtually turning out to be a great blessing for Mr Gilani. And he really made use of this opportunity. Well before the arrival of the Turkish prime minister, Mr Gilani came to the house and spent quality time with his party colleagues during which he was photographed with every second PPP lawmaker present on the occasion.
After the speech of Mr Erdogan, when Mr Gilani rose to present vote of thanks it was pin drop silence despite the presence of a significant number of PML-N lawmakers in the house. After the Supreme Court decision against him, he would not have, even in his wild imagination, expected such a pensive audience, when PML-N lawmakers don’t accept him as a prime minister any more.
But speaking after him, Leader of the Opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan underlined the fact that the smooth sailing of the joint sitting of parliament was entirely because of the visiting prime minister, whom he described as true leader of the Islamic world. Otherwise, Mr Khan said, it would not have been possible to sit across the aisle.
During the last sitting of the National Assembly which continued from April 25 to May 4, the opposition PML-N didn’t allow the house to carry out its routine business, let alone give time to any cabinet member to speak on the floor of the house. After the Supreme Court decision, the PML-N has launched a go-Gilani-go campaign and has refused to accept him and members of his cabinet as legitimate holders of public offices.
Earlier Prime Minister Erdogan had spoken high of flourishing democracy in a multi-party political system in Pakistan, which he said was the beauty of any democratic set-up.
Later in the evening at a banquet which Prime Minister Gilani had given in his honour, Mr Erdogan continued with the same friendly tone and tenor.
Helped by a translator, the Turkish prime minister reiterated his unflinching support for democracy in Pakistan and talked about the cultural heritage, economy and security interests which the two brotherly countries shared.
During the joint sitting, in the galleries of the parliament, the PML-N was represented by Chief Minister of Punjab, Mian Shahbaz Sharif.
And at the dinner, it was Ishaq Dar who is Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, who represented the chief of his party.
According to PML-N sources, Mian Nawaz Sharif will call on the Turkish prime minister on Tuesday in the afternoon.