Only NA speaker can disqualify me, says PM
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani on Friday challenged the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to bring a no-confidence move against him if it had the courage and also reiterated that it was only the speaker of the National Assembly who could disqualify him whatever the decision against him was.
“Whatever is the decision, nobody except you the speaker, can disqualify me. You are the custodian of the house. You are not here to act like the post office rather you have to set up your court and apply your mind,” said Prime Minister Gilani, while making his surprise appearance in the National Assembly.
He said he was the prime minister of 180 million people of the country, but the PML-N was not ready to accept him even as a member of the National Assembly. “I will accept the decision if parliament and its custodian de-notify me,” he said.
The opposition leader, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who posed a challenge to the treasury benches on Thursday to bring the convicted prime minister to the house, did not turn up in parliament on Friday. Only a few PML-N parliamentarians who were present in the house left when the leader of the house started his speech.
Prime Minister Gilani, while addressing the PML-N, said if the N-League was on a high moral ground, it should showagainst him. “I know that it will not wait for a second if it has slightest indication that our government in the centre can be thrown out,” he said, adding: “We never thought of doing so in Punjab”.
Mentioning the Mehrangate scandal, he said the PML-N should know that it was wisdom, not the money, which was required to topple an elected government. During his speech, the prime minister made direct and indirect hard-hitting attacks on the judiciary and the PML-N leadership including the Sharif brothers and the opposition leader. “One court is here (the people’s representatives) and the other court is there (Supreme Court). You hanged Bhutto and separated him from us, but you cannot impose ban on thoughts,” he said, adding: “We are members of the parliament and have not come from backdoors”.
He questioned what crime he had committed, saying: “I was not punished for any fiscal corruption rather I was convicted for protecting the constitution”. “This happened for the first time that a person is being greeted after being convicted and it is only because he took stand on principles and safeguarded the constitution,” he said, adding he was not worried because he had not been convicted for any financial corruption, but for the protecting the constitution.
He said he highly respected the judiciary, but there was also a parliament which was supreme and all institutions derived powers from the parliament.
Prime Minister Gilani said only a day before the Supreme Court verdict, the opposition leader wished him good luck and now ‘he was saying that he would not allow the premier to come to the house’. “They cannot act like God,” he said.
He said the PML-N should know that it contested the election when it leader was under conviction and conviction was reviewed after nine years. About attitude of the PML-N leadership, he said: “One brother says that he does not recognise the president and the other brother says he does not accept the prime minister. While their party does not accept Imran Khan”. “Who have given them the mandate to speak against the will of the people? They do not know how to respect mandate of the people,” Gilani said.
“The people came and go, but the PML-N wants that with my departure, the system would be packed up and government of technocrats be set up, but it is not acceptable.”
He said under the Vienna Convention, all heads of states in world enjoyed immunity, then why it should not apply to the elected president of this country.
He also recalled that after the SC verdict on NRO, none of the member from the opposition ever demanded that the immunity for the president be withdrawn. “Our policy of reconciliation should not be considered our weakness.”
He recalled in initial days of the allied government, the then finance minister, who was from the PML-N, presented very poor picture of the economy. “Then the PML-N quit the government, and it was under an impression that fresh elections will be held,” he said.
Referring to decision of Nawaz Sharif not to sit in the National Assembly, he said: “The PML-N knows that it is not an easy job to run this house (National Assembly)”. “The PML-N cannot run the house for a single day because it has ego problem, but it is our tolerance that we are taking along all the parties,” he said.
Criticising policies of the PML-N leadership, the prime minister said: “Sometime they say General Kayani is good for democracy and then they say he should not be given the extension”. “Sometime they say they are with parliament and sometime they are with the judiciary. When we plan to go to India, they say we are with General Pasha and they say he should be given the extension,” he said, advising the PML-N to go with whom they were.
Gilani said he was very clear that he was with the parliament and the people. He said if the parliament de-notify, he would accept the decision because he had no problem of ego and was the longest serving prime minister of the country.
Gilani also recalled that when a dictator overthrew an elected government in 1999, all political parties condemned the decision, saying only two days after the coup he stated he did not accept the assembly in which Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto were not sitting. “But the late Abdus Sattar Laleka who was information minister in the Sharif cabinet said if we accept the assembly then why your are not accepting it,” he said.
He recalled Makhdoom Javed Hashmi was also active in the movement which was started by Kulsoom Nawaz but they left the country which damaged the unity of political parties. “Even then we signed the Charter of Democracy considering that the democracy should not be derailed,” he said.
Gilani also mentioned that since inception of the present government, the PPP never tried to change loyalties of members of other parties. “We were short of 42 members to form the government and I had stated that on high moral grounds, I will prefer to sit in the opposition instead of using undemocratic means,” he said.
“On the other hand, those who are giving the PPP lessons of democracy should know that they were allowed to form the government in Punjab despite the fact that the PML-Q having 84 members in the provincial assembly had offered the PPP to make government in the province.”
The premier said never in the past the opposition members were accommodated the way he did in the last four years releasing them billions of rupees funds so that they could enhance their status in their constituencies. “But in return the PPP members and even my son sitting in the Punjab Assembly did not get funds from the provincial government,” he regretted.
Prime Minister Gilani had not used such a harsh language against the PML-N leadership inside or outside the parliament in the last over four years. His speech was strong reaction to comments of Nawaz Sharif on the SC verdict and opposition leader’s speech on floor of the house which he delivered on Thursday.