As a fresh confrontation appeared imminent between Pakistan’s PPP government and the judiciary, former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani has warned that this time the ruling party will not take any “unconstitutional” move by the Supreme Court against his successor “lying down”.
Mr. Gilani, the vice-chairman of the PPP, said that if Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf is dismissed by the apex court, the PPP would not accept the verdict.
Mr. Ashraf became premier after the apex court convicted Mr. Gilani of contempt and disqualified him for not reopening corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari in Switzerland.
“Every day is not Sunday,” Mr. Gilani said when he was asked at a news conference in Lahore on Sunday about the PPP’s reaction to any move by the apex court to dismiss Mr. Ashraf.
“An unconstitutional verdict will not be accepted... The masses will not accept it. We’ll resist instead of taking the decision lying down,” he said.
Mr. Gilani warned the judiciary that there would be public protests if Mr. Ashraf is disqualified.
“We will resist the move and take the matter to the people of Pakistan,” he added.
The court recently charged Mr. Ashraf with contempt and summoned him to personally appear on August 27 to explain why action should not be taken against him.
Legal experts have said Mr. Ashraf faces the possibility of being disqualified like Mr. Gilani.
Mr. Gilani reiterated that the PPP cannot approach the Swiss authorities to act against Mr. Zardari as the President enjoys immunity from prosecution.
The judiciary should “rectify its fault” and review its judgement that seeks the reopening of the cases against the President, he said.
Referring to his own disqualification in June, Mr. Gilani said he had sacrificed his position to protect the Constitution and to save democracy.
“This time around, if the judiciary sacks Pervez Ashraf, the country will risk dismemberment,” he said.
Asked if Mr. Ashraf should appear in the apex court on August 27 to reply to a contempt of court charge, Mr. Gilani said: “Although it’s useless, it’s Asharf’s prerogative to appear or not”.
Mr. Gilani said he had appeared in the court thrice out of respect for the judiciary but the judges did not reciprocate his move.
Mr. Gilani further said the judiciary has jeopardised the holding of free and fair elections.
The next election will be held according to schedule but it is linked to the stability of the PPP-led government, he said.
“It’s a matter of three or four months, so the judiciary should have patience,” he added.
“Only and only the judiciary will be responsible (for any untoward incident),” he said.
Mr. Gilani pointed out that a “third force” was always looking for a chance to wind up the democratic system.
He said if the judiciary did not want to allow any premier to work then it should take charge and there would be no need for holding elections.
“If the elected representatives are removed like this, there is no use for the electoral exercise. Just wind up the democratic system and make nominations,” he said.
Mr. Gilani cautioned politicians who, he said, were seeking to use the judiciary as a crutch to come to power.
He said these politicians are “badly mistaken as democracy once lost will be restored only after centuries“.
Asked if the court could call for an early election, he said this was not possible as it is the sole prerogative of the premier to dissolve assemblies and announce early polls.