Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani - File Photo

LAHORE: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said here on Sunday that he would be ready to resign if that would help resolve the issue of writing a letter to Swiss authorities to reopen cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

Mr Gilani, who was talking to journalists at his residence, made the remarks in response to a suggestion that he should better resign to avoid a jail sentence in the contempt of court case or a death sentence for violating the Constitution (in case of writing the letter).

Mr Gilani said he would be happy to resign and leave office if that would help resolve the issue.

“But I think whosoever replaces me will have to face the same dilemma as the core issue will remain there,” he added. The prime minister said that time and again he had made it clear that he was not going to write the letter come what may.

“When there was an issue of judges’ appointment the matter was referred to parliament and the 19th amendment was introduced to deal with it. Why the president’s immunity is not referred to parliament like that of judges’ appointment as it is the best forum to address all issues.” He said the constitution granted immunity to the office of the president, and not to Asif Ali Zardari.

“Even the president himself cannot waive his immunity,” he declared.

About the Mehrangate affair, the prime minister said a wrong impression was being created that the PPP was behind it.

“The judiciary has taken up the matter and we have nothing to do with it,” he said and criticised PPP’s opponents for remaining silent on the issue for 16 years.

“Why they (the PML-N) remained silent on the issue for 16 years or so and why it did not move the court to get itself absolved of the case. Let the judiciary decide the case now,” Mr Gilani said.

Referring to US attack on the Salala check-post which left 24 soldiers dead, the prime minister said Pakistan never sought an apology for the attack and never made it a precondition for normalising Pak-US relations.

“There had never been such a precondition for improving relations with the US,” Mr Gilani said, adding that the parliament’s committee on national security had finalised its recommendations after incorporating the opinion and suggestions of all political parties.

“These will be presented before a joint session of parliament soon and for the first time parliament will formulate the country’s foreign policy,” he said.

“Earlier, decisions used to be taken without taking parliament into confidence,” he said. But, he said, the situation would never be the same again. When asked about the functioning of a political cell in the ISI, Mr Gilani said he could not say anything with certainty about it because he was yet to have a meeting with new Director General of the ISI (Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam).

About granting the Most Favoured Nation status to India, Mr Gilani said Pakistan was interested in trade and “if there is an issue with the name of MFN we will rename it”.

The prime minister said the people could not be fooled because they knew which party was sincerely trying to steer the country out of the crisis it faced. It (the PML-N) had raised the slogan of corruption against PPP in Kashmir but was defeated in the election because the people in Kashmir were not ready to believe the allegations levelled by the PML-N.