LAHORE/KARACHI - Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani told reporters at his residence on Sunday that Dr Zulfiqar Mirza had taken a principled decision by tendering his resignation, so there was no question of action against him, adding that the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) would convince the other parliamentary parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), to hold local government elections prior to the next general elections.
Responding to a query regarding any party action against Mirza for violating party discipline like Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Naheed Khan and others, the PM said Mirza was a committed PPP man and would not resort to creating any new party. He said people leveled charges while staying in the party, but Mirza had resigned first.
Gilani said the government wanted to hold local bodies elections before the general polls, but said the provinces would be taken onboard before any decision was made. He hinted that elections could be held at any time after April 2012 as the Election Commission of Pakistan would have finished its task of preparing computerised electoral rolls.
Yet, to a question, he ruled out the possibility of holding any mid-term elections, saying the provinces had in writing admitted that the environment was not conducive to holding even by-elections.
JUDICIAL ENQUIRY: Gilani said further that Interior Minister Rehman Malik wanted a judicial commission under the chairmanship of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to probe into the serious charges leveled against him by Dr Mirza about the Karachi violence.
He said Malik had written a letter to him requesting the formation of a commission to investigate the charges against him, in order to clarify his position. To a question about a letter written by the interior minister to the chief justice requesting the establishment of special courts in addition to anti-terrorism courts, the PM expressed his ignorance about the communiqué and refused to comment on it, but said the chief justice should make a decision regarding the letter.
Gilani also said the PPP government was adhering to its politics of reconciliation and now it was up to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) to ensure its comeback. Gilani said further that the government was planning to make an appeal to the international community to help the flood-hit districts of Sindh as more rains are expected in the coming days.
ALTAF HUSSAIN: Meanwhile, the MQM said that the PM and President Asif Ali Zardari had separately called MQM chief Altaf Hussain to enquire about his health. Hussain told them that he was well after treatment and would restart his political activities shortly. He said Gilani was striving to strengthen democracy in the country and hoped that his efforts would bear fruit. The PM said MQM was a political reality and the government believed in reconciliation with all political parties. He said the government respected the people’s mandate to the MQM.
Hussain also spoke to Rehman Malik and said that democratic parties would foil every conspiracy against democratic institutions through cooperation. A PPP delegation comprising Dr Babar Awan and Sindh Local Government Minister Agha Siraj Durrani also met Sindh Governor Ishratul Ebad to sort out issues before the formal announcement of MQM rejoining the provincial and federal government.
Later, Senior Minister Khursheed Shah said all issues in Karachi should be resolved through mutual dialogue and cooperation.