ISLAMABAD - Taunting Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Monday said the PML-N could not even launch a “short march” let alone the long march it was talking about.
Talking to reporters, Gilani contended that the Pakistan People’s Party was better placed to launch movements. He said President Asif Ali Zardari enjoyed complete immunity under the constitution.
Responding to the PML-N’s demand that the prime minister resign after being convicted by the Supreme Court in the contempt of court case, Gilani said he was a public representative and “will not leave office on the whims of the Sharifs’ courts”.
“Why is PML-N is in such a hurry and is not even waiting for the detailed judgement of the SC,” Gilani said, adding that the judiciary could not disqualify any public representative and the speaker of the National Assembly alone could decide about it. “I will only listen to the directions of the speaker… if she asks me to leave I will immediately accept and go to the people.”
Gilani asserted that there was no constitutional crisis in the country. “It is only a question of interpretation by the Sharif brothers. Nawaz went to the SC in haste in the memo case in a bid to topple the government but he failed.”
He said the PPP did not criticise the PML-N when its top leadership took a long flight to Jeddah from Adiala Jail but had only asked under which court’s order had they done so.
The prime minister said he had not been convicted on corruption charges or immorality. “It was in respect of the judiciary that I appeared before the SC three times. We have always followed the constitution and the opposition should also demonstrate patience in its conduct.”
To the alleged involvement of his son Ali Musa Gilani in the Ephedrine case‚ Gilani said he had asked Musa to immediately return from abroad and face the investigation. “He has already appeared before Anti-Narcotics Force officials,” he added.
About the recent drone attack in Miranshah despite parliament’s recommendations against them‚ Gilani said Pakistan and the US were engaged in preliminary negotiations. “One can only comment once the process is completed. Parliamentary recommendations also require expulsion of foreign fighters from Pakistan and commitment not to allow use of our soil for attacks on any other country,” he said.
Gilani said the 30-second detention, which could also “qualify a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records”, did not have anything to do with his disqualification.
He said the opposition should “show some patience” because he had the right to appeal in the court.
Gilani said former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, when found guilty of the charges against him, did not resign but continued with his job and questioned the gathering as to why he was asked to resign on “moral grounds”.
“Some say why did I not tender a resignation on the basis of morality, I ask, was I convicted for committing any acts of moral turpitude? I was only convicted because I acted according to the constitution.”
Gilani said he was “totally independent” and enjoyed immunity while discharging his duties.
“Imran Khan proved to be better than the Sharif brothers in this regard,” Gilani said, adding, “They were scared that somebody else might launch a long march before they did.”
He said Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf President Javed Hashmi had met him at his nephew’s wedding and “he told me that his party will take a decision when the court decided something”.