Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. - File Photo

LAHORE: Making clear his stance on writing a letter to Swiss authorities to reopen cases against President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said here on Sunday that had his government wanted to do that so much time would not have been spent on the matter.

The Supreme Court has given the deadline of March 21 to the prime minister to write the letter.

“We would not have waited for so long were we to write the letter to Swiss authorities. I will follow the Constitution which gives immunity to the office of the president,” he said while talking to journalists at the State Guest House.

“All over the world there is immunity for the president, prime minister and foreign minister. I do not have the prerogative to take a decision about immunity issue because it rests with parliament.”

He said: “Parliament, not I, should be charged for contempt of court for giving immunity.

“Had I been the chief justice of Pakistan I would have referred the immunity issue to parliament.”

The prime minister said parliament had unanimously passed the 18th, 19th and 20th Amendments to the Constitution but had not felt the need to take up the issue of president’s immunity.

“You know I am a small man. I am not the target. You know who is the real target.”

When asked about acting on his lawyer’s advice about writing the letter, he said the media had mixed two different cases.

“I will not take anyone’s advice (in the Swiss case). I will act in accordance with the Constitution.”

The prime minister said nobody except parliament had the authority to rewrite the Constitution.

About not giving extension to the chief of Inter-Service Intelligence, he said: “Had we granted extension to Pasha Sahib we would have been accused of striking a deal or having done so under pressure.”

He said the new ISI chief was a competent person and the government had “good relations” with the army.

Replying to a question, he said the Mehran Bank case should have been taken up long ago.

He said the PPP had been facing conspiracies since its inception and now the PML-N had also started saying so.

“Against a lot of odds we have achieved our target of conducting Senate polls. Our next target is to present the fifth budget of our government and then we will talk to our friends about holding general elections,” he said.

“I am the longest serving prime minister of the country and this is the fifth year of my tenure.”

The prime minister said all parties had agreed on creating a province in south Punjab, but a resolution in this regard was not being allowed in the Punjab Assembly and the PPP was weighing other options.

He said a decision about an all parties’ conference on Blaochistan would be taken after receiving suggestions in this regard from the province’s governor, chief minister, ministers and legislators.

The prime minister said a report he had received on Sunday from the interior ministry showed that the number of missing persons was 49.

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