18 December 2011
Islamabad: A confident-looking Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Saturday he was in total control of the situation arising out of the memo scandal and once again warned unnamed conspirators that in case of any successful plot against his government, other stakeholders in the system would be equally affected.
Talking to reporters at the Prime Minister House, Mr Gilani summarised the political situation through an Urdu couplet, the gist of which was that in case of a confrontation, all parties would face the consequences.
The couplet, which the prime minister said he had especially selected for media persons, reads: “Sochen tau kashmakash main hai donon ka hi ziyan, uss ka gulab to mera gareban jayega”.
In reply to a question about his government’s perceived confrontation with the military and the judiciary against the backdrop of memo case, the prime minister said: “Both army and judiciary are with democracy and they will not derail the system.”
Asked if his three-hour meeting with Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Friday night had resulted in reconciliation with the military over the memo issue, Mr Gilani said it was a routine meeting. Tension was media’s creation, he added.
He said during the meeting he had received a telephone call from President Asif Zardari and General Kayani also talked to him.
About the replies filed by General Kayani and the ISI chief in the Supreme Court to petitions over the memo case, the prime minister said they had to do so because the court had issued notices to them, but “being a part of the government their replies were submitted through the defence ministry and the attorney general”.
He rejected a perception that there was a difference of opinion between the military and his government over the memo controversy. “They (COAS, ISI DG) work and fall under the ambit of the federal government. How can they take a different stand? They have to stand with me. They are with us.”
During the entire chat with media persons, Mr Gilani repeatedly said he had good relations with the military. “This is my army and my ISI, and I have defended them.”
In their replies, both the army chief and the spymaster had accepted the memo’s existence and called for a thorough investigation. The federal government sought dismissal of the petitions on grounds that a parliamentary committee was already investigating the matter.
“After the former US national security adviser James Logan Jones’s letter, I don’t think there is anything left in the memo controversy. It is now a proven fact that Mansoor Ijaz is a total liar,” said the prime minister. In his letter to Asma Jehangir, counsel for former ambassador Husain Haqqani, Mr Jones said: “I did not consider the letter sent by Mansoor Ijaz as credible and I had no reason to believe that Mr Haqqani had any role in preparing it.”
However, the prime minister said the case was still with the Supreme Court, where the government would forcefully present its point of view.
About the constitution of a commission by the court to investigate the controversy, he said it was another legal issue on which the government had its own point view.
Former law minister Dr Babar Awan has on many occasions questioned the court’s jurisdiction to constitute a commission which, according to him, could only be done by the executive.
“My government is not running away from investigation into the scandal and has already handed over its probe to the bipartisan and bicameral Parliamentary Committee on National Security,” the prime minister said in reply to a question.
About his party lawmakers’ demand for resignation by the ISI chief, Mr Gilani said people had their own opinion on different issues, but what mattered in the end was a decision taken by the leadership.
PAK-US TIES: Prime Minister Gilani said his meeting on Friday with US Ambassador Cameron Munter was meant to thrash out differences between the two countries so that “we can have long-term and sustainable relations”.
“However, I categorically told the ambassador that I am answerable to the parliament and the people of Pakistan who don’t want to compromise on the country’s sovereignty and dignity for which the two countries will have to redefine their terms of engagement,” Mr Gilani said.
He said the parliamentary committee was already working on new terms of engagement which would be followed in letter and spirit.
About the extension in service of ISI Director General Lieutenant General Shuja Pasha, the prime minister said: “We will cross the bridge when it comes.”
General Pasha’s one-year extension in service will end in March.
Asked if President Zardari would return home in time for the death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto on December 27, Mr Gilani said it depended upon his doctors’ advice. He said the president was in good health and “we regularly talk to each other on telephone”.
He dispelled an impression that the government would go for early general election after Senate polls in March, saying emphatically that 2013 was the election year.
About the Seraiki province, the prime minister said his government would use all means at its disposal to “provide an identity” to the people of southern Punjab.