MULTAN: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Saturday came out with an uncharacteristic play on words, confidently shrugging aside talk of a “caretaker or chair-taker set-up” in the country.
An enigmatic remark followed the pun: “The prime minister will not be jailed.”
And Mr Gilani topped it off with a loaded allusion: “I will stay here as no prime minister will come from abroad and no prime minister will go abroad illegally and unconstitutionally.”
The prime minister made the puzzling comments in reply to reporters’ questions about early elections after the inauguration of the Pakistan Air University’s Multan campus.
He said any decision regarding a date for the next general election would be made in consultation with coalition partners.
The government would provide relief to the nation in the next budget, Mr Gilani added.
He said the demands for Bahawalpur, Thal and Hazara provinces were a conspiracy against people of the Seraiki belt. “The demand for a Seraiki province is not mine. It’s an aspiration of the people of this belt and no conspiracy will be allowed to spoil the plan.”
He said the Senate elections were held smoothly on schedule and the government would now present its fifth budget in May. “It will be the first elected government in the country that will present the fifth budget.”
“Several predictions had been made in the past about demise of the government, but all of them turned out to be wrong. The Senate elections have belied another prediction,” he said.
In an attempt to put at rest apprehensions in the media that the government was contemplating imposing curbs, he said “we are not going to impose any restriction”. The government had passed an information law to strengthen democracy and the media also benefited from it, the premier said.
In reply to a question about relations with the United States, Mr Gilani said there had been ups and downs in bilateral relations, but Pakistan would not come under US pressure over the gas pipeline deal with Iran.
Justifying the increase in petrol prices, the prime minister said the decision had been taken after jumps in the international market.
Earlier, he said at the ceremony the government was focusing on quality of education as he believes that the education system would have to establish keeping in view challenges of globalisation. He said the campus of the Air University in Multan was a fulfillment of his desire.
Broadband infrastructure was being established across the country and union councils would have information centres to make the dream of connecting the entire rural populace with the world at large, Mr Gilani said.
Air Chief Rao Qamar Suleman, Higher Education Commission chief Javed Leghari and the Air University’s Vice Chancellor, Ijaz Ahmed Malik, also attended the ceremony.