PPP to protest adverse ruling

August 16, 2012


Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira. — Photo by AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan People’s Party dropped a clear hint on Wednesday that if Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf was sent home by the Supreme Court it would protest against the decision.

Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, when asked if the party endorsed a recent statement made by former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani warning the apex court against sacking PM Ashraf and threatening a protest movement, said: “The party will consider his point of view seriously.”

Addressing a press briefing after a cabinet meeting, Mr Kaira, who is also information secretary of the PPP, said Mr Gilani was a senior leader of the party whose remarks couldn’t be put aside because the situation was quite serious.

Not only the former prime minister but the entire party leadership had serious concerns over the way court proceedings were developing, he said referring to the Supreme Court hearing of the NRO case scheduled for Aug 27, in which PM Ashraf has been asked to appear personally.

Mr Kaira said PPP’s response in the event of disqualification of another elected prime minister was under discussion in the party and a decision would be taken with consensus.

Without ruling out the possibility of a protest march, the minister said when Mr Gilani travelled to Multan after his disqualification he had been joined by people on his train journey and they expressed their reaction to his sacking.

“Moreover, the people of Multan by electing Abdul Qadir Gilani, elder son of the former prime minister, have also given their verdict against the court’s decision,” Mr Kaira said.

The minister said he was hopeful of a fair decision by the judges but in case of an adverse judgment the party reserved the right to protest.

Mr Kaira categorically denied media reports suggesting that the PPP intended to extend parliament’s tenure to get President Asif Zardari re-elected by the sitting assemblies.

“People should understand that only in case of war or unusual circumstances, when elections can’t be held, the government of the day may extend its time in power,” he said.

Commenting on harsh remarks made by Awami Muslim League leader Sheikh Rashid Ahmad against PPP leaders at a rally, Mr Kaira said: “We know well how to respond to such speeches but we believe in clean politics and, therefore, my suggestion to both Imran Khan and Sheikh Rashid is not to cross the line.”

The minister expressed amazement at the teaming up of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf chief Imran Khan with Sheikh Rashid and said only a few years back the latter used to humiliate Mr Khan for running a one-man show.

The minister said a special committee on Balochistan, in its initial report submitted to the cabinet, had sought more time to complete its deliberations. Mr Kaira, who is a member of the committee, said in reply to a question that its only mandate was to give recommendations to the cabinet and it would do it soon.

He said Political Affairs Minister Moula Bakhsh Chandio was looking into reports of migration of Hindus from Sindh to India and he would soon submit his report.

APP adds: Mr Kaira said a special cabinet meeting would be held after Eid to discuss the electricity crisis and measures to reduce line losses and improve power distribution. He said extra efforts were needed to improve the situation.

He said the demand increased by 1,000MW during Sehr and Iftar and recovery of bills was very low in some areas, including Balochistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, because of poor law and order.

Replying to a question, he said the secretaries of cabinet and establishment divisions had been asked to present a report to the cabinet about mandatory declaration of assets by persons drawing salary from the national exchequer.