Profile: Yousuf Raza Gilani

Published June 19, 2012

Introduction: A Benazir Bhutto loyalist and charismatic leader with strong popular support in southern Punjab, Yousuf Raza Gilani became the 17th Prime Minister of Pakistan. Covering a long political journey as speaker National Assembly and federal minister, Gilani became Pakistan’s prime minister on March 25, 2008.

Biography: A seasoned politician descending from a politically and spiritually influential family of Multan, Makhdoom Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani was born in Karachi on June 9, 1952. His father Makhdoom Alamdar Hussain Gilani was a former politician who played a significant role in the Pakistan Movement. After some primary years at a missionary school in Multan, he joined the famous Aitchison College for his intermediate. Later, Gilani obtained a BA honours in English Literature from Government College, Lahore and a Master’s degree in journalism from University of Punjab.

Career History: His political career began as a member of the Central Working Committee of the United Muslim League in 1978 and got elected as the Chairman of the District Council, Multan in 1983. Two years later, Gillani was elected to the federal parliament in non-party elections and was appointed as the minister for housing and works, and later railways. This term as a political servant was as a nominee by General Zia Ul Haq.

On account of differences with the then Pakistan Muslim League (PML) Prime Minister Muhammad Khan Junejo, Gilani joined Pakistan Peoples Party in 1988. He has been elected in the parliament under the PPP ticket thrice, serving both as a federal minister and speaker National Assembly.

Gilani was imprisoned in 2001 where he served a period of five years following a conviction entailing illegal government appointments, during his term as a speaker of parliament.

The verdict was passed by an anti-corruption court established by General Musharraf for appropriate accountability and responsibility of resources. People with anti-Musharraf sentiments called this tactic a way to intimidate PPP members to join his party.

Gilani issued orders to release parliamentarians detained by PPP. However, when the interior ministry denied his request he notified the authorities and brought the matter on record; an act which was entirely unheard of.

When found convicted on the aforementioned charges, his statement was quite contradictory and he told Dawn newspaper “charges were concocted and fabricated to pressurize him to leave the PPP.”

"Since I am unable to oblige them, they decided to convict me so that I could be disqualified and an example set for other political leaders who may learn to behave as good boys," he said at the time.

His political stance and resilience to fight for his rights made him an outstanding candidate and helped him gather a rather large fan following.

As Prime Minister: Gilani won the general election in 2008 and was elected as the Prime Minister of Pakistan on March 24, 2008. He won the election against Chahdhry Ilahi with a massive difference. Initially the nation and government were uncertain about his candidacy and fortitude to lead the country globally.

However, past recent years have proven his leadership attributes and proved his foes wrong. His stature has grown as his term progressed and was able to defend the country in times of crisis.

From battling the extremist elements to the containment of fiscal and economic downslide to the approval of the NFC award and the passing of the 18th amendment with complete consensus is in itself an achievement. This has resulted in an enhancement of provincial autonomy and increase in provincial resources.

Also, under his premiership, the deposed Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was restored on March 15, 2009, following a long march by former premiere, Nawaz Sharif.

Current status: The tussle between the militiary and civil command, instigated by the controversial memo written to Admiral Michael Mullen,has ignited a series of significant political events.

With respect to the developing situation, Gilani announced that  he will not accept 'a state within a state'. Later, on January 11, 2012, he fired defence secretary Naeem Lodhi on charges of misconduct and corruption.

The mounting pressure on the PPP government to correspond with the Swiss government has resulted in a political turmoil within Pakistan. On January 19, 2012, Gilani was summoned to appear before the Supreme Court of Pakistan, to defend charges against contempt of court.

Gilani reiterated that he did not mean any disrespect to the judicial system and the constitution and did not correspond with the Swiss authorities because President Zardari enjoys complete political immunity.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has announced to indict Gilani for contempt of court on February 2, 2012 and summoned the premier to appear before the court on February 13, 2012. However, Gilani has decided to file an appeal before appearing in the court of law.

Gilani was found guilty on the charges of contempt of court on April 26, 2012. National Assmebly's Speaker, Fehmida Mirza, refused to disqualify PM, however, her ruling was challenged by the opposition leaders. The Supreme Court announced the verdict on the Speaker ruling case on June 19, 2012 in which Gilani was declared disqualified for five years.

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