ON BOARD PM'S AIRCRAFT: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday said he would not be coerced to move out of the office through unconstitutional means, and would exhaust all means to have a fair trial.
“I have no yearning to stick to the power, but I will take it to finality and exhaust all avenues,” Gilani told a team of journalists accompanying him to the United Kingdom on a five-day visit.
He said the constitution has explicitly spelt out ways to remove a prime minister and no one can force him out.
Prime Minister Gilani was asked about the stance taken by him on the issue of non-implementation of the Supreme Court's order and the subsequent conviction for contempt.
Gilani said all his decisions were in line with the constitution.
He said he believed that under Article 248 (1), he enjoyed complete immunity and he only did what he thought was the right thing.
“I took all decisions to the best of my abilities and in line with the rules and procedures, and in good faith,” he said and added “I am proud that I fought for the constitution of Pakistan.”
He said his coalition government enjoyed a two-thirds majority and its partners stood by it through thick and thin.
“Why should I fear those who are against the constitution,” he said.
He said he has the right to appeal, once the detailed judgment is announced, than the matter of his disqualification or not would go to the Speaker National Assembly and finally to the Chief Election Commissioner.
“But we must also see what happened to the decision taken by the Election Commission against Waheeda Shah, who has disqualified, but the Sindh High Court stayed the decision,” the prime minister said.
The prime minister when asked, dismissed the campaign launched against him by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and said they were merely playing to the galleries.
“If they are genuinely interested that I move out of the way, they have to resign from the assemblies, and join Imran Khan and others, otherwise there is no other way.”
He said if the PML-N and others do join hands, only then they might be able to have some impact.
“But if they are not together, there is a real threat (for them) that me might be back in power,” he said.
Gilani said he was hurt by the language used by the PML-N leaders against him and said the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) never reacted in the same way. He said even though PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif got a sentence for nine years and had to stay out of the country, yet this was never played up by the ruling party.
He also recalled that Sharif, when he was the prime minister, was also fined for Rs 1500 for a traffic violation on the motorway, but no one at that time termed him as a convict.
He urged the PML-N to do only what was practically achievable and said their desire of acting as an opposition, while being in government would not take them far. He said they were trying to kill two birds with a stone.
About the long march against the government, Gilani warned that if one of the federating units launches a movement against another, it was tantamount to be an act of treason.
Regarding the Siraiki province, he said any measures to stop the demand can create a movement against the Punjab government. He also mentioned the turnout figures of some recent protest marches and showed a visible surprise over the low turnout.
He said for the time being reconciliation was the only way forward as the politics of long and short marches succeeded only against dictators and not any democratic governments.
When asked about the options left for the opposition to oust him, Gilani said all they can do is to either resign or to wait for the next general elections that would be held once the government completes its term.
He said the whole issue was to somehow prevent the government from going ahead with the budget, which would be the fifth by the present democratic government and the first in country's history.
Asked whether he saw any threat to his government from Rawalpindi, Gilani said there was now an atmosphere in the country that favoured democracy and would not support any misadventure, as the people, the media and the international community all stood for a democratic system.
About his letter to the Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan for the appointment of a new Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), Gilani said he wanted to go ahead as the government could announce the new general election and a caretaker setup has to be put in place, and a person to look after the entire process.
He said that Nisar has said he would get back to him after consultation with his party chief Nawaz Sharif, but in the end said that he did not recognise him a prime minister. He said now the matter was with the committee and it would decide about the new CEC.
The Prime Minister also mentioned that the Punjab government was also not willing to implement the decision to have two holidays in a week as it does not seem serious in energy conservation and wants to exploit the situation.