ISLAMABAD: Under a heavy Islamabad sky, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and the legal team representing his accused son in the ephedrine drug scandal put on a brave face and defended their position on Monday: That the accusations against Ali Musa Gilani did not hold.
When asked whether he felt the Supreme Court was treating him and his family unfairly, the prime minister dismissed the question. “They are my friends,” he answered.
The prime minister kept on parrying questions on the perceived tension between the PPP government and the apex court.
When a reporter asked whether the prime minister was ready to author another book in Adiala Jail in the event that he is sentenced to prison in the contempt of court case, Mr Gilani replied in the affirmative.
“I am not afraid of jails, but yes, a jail is a good place to write a book,” said the prime minister.
Mr Gilani wrote his first book, ‘Chahe Yousuf’, when he was imprisoned by General Pervez Musharraf in 2000.
The seriousness of the sessions hosted by the prime minister on Monday was brought home by his decision to invite electronic and print media, and hold separate back-to-back sessions with them focusing on the fast-developing ephedrine scam.
According to a PPP source, the ephedrine drug scandal was turning out to be a game changer for the Gilani family. The prime minister was making extra efforts to get out of the scandal scratch free.
Earlier, on the eve of the April 11 cabinet meeting, Mr Gilani put on a defiant defence for his son. During repeated media interactions, he indirectly warned officials against implicating his son in the case.
Two defence counsel for Ali Musa, Salman Akram Raja and Fawad Chaudhry; the former health secretary and incumbent Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Khushnood Lashari; and the Social Welfare Adviser to the Prime Minister, Begum Shehnaz Wazir Ali, responded to the media’s questions.
The prime minister announced that he “decided to brief media with the help of legal experts” given that the ephedrine drug scandal had become a national issue.
“They are here to respond to your questions on the scandal.”
Other issues: Budgets, Bhoja and Balochistan
Alongside the drug scandal, the prime minister spoke on a wide range of issues, ranging from the tragic Bhoja Air crash, to talks with the US and India, the ever worsening law and order condition in Balochistan and the new budget proposals.
Mr Gilani said an investigation aimed at ascertaining international standards had already begun. The prime minister said a judicial commission had also been set up to ensure a fair inquiry, at the behest of the victims’ relatives.
The prime minister went on to comment on the re-opened Nato supply routes. He announced that the government was talking to the US and other stakeholders in light of the parliament’s recommendations. All decisions taken uphold the national interest, and he said that a number of top-level meetings were scheduled with US officials to fine-tune terms for future engagements.
Mr Gilani said defence secretaries of India and Pakistan were engaging after the tragedy in Siachen. According to him, they are planning to meet again in the near future.
The prime minister said his economic team had been directed to prioritise the energy crisis, the creation of 100,000 jobs and relief for the common people in the next budget.
During the session with the prime minister, the younger Gilani’s legal team -- led by the chief defence counsel, Salman Akram Raja -- looked upbeat, indicating that they were hopeful in their attempts to get Ali Musa out of the drug scandal unscathed.“I was more than sure that the prosecution is standing on very weak ground,” Mr Raja said when explaining his observations of the evidence that had been submitted before the apex court against Ali Musa Gilani.
The available evidence only mentions Mr Musa once, according to Mr Raja. Namely in a statement made by Federal Health Director-General Rasheed Juma, where Musa allegedly calls Juma once.
“This does not prove anything. However, there is plenty of evidence suggesting how Mr Juma and his associates have misused their authority.