Amid animated speculation of a clash between the executive and the judiciary over allegations of a bid by the Government to remove the Chief Justice of Pakistan and the entire bench, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Sunday said it does not augur well for the nation that rumours are given precedence over his statements.

In an address to the nation late this evening, Mr. Gilani said: “If a false news is given preference over the words of the Prime Minister, then it would be an insult to the office of the Prime Minister.” Pointing out that the higher judiciary had been restored last year on his verbal instructions, he underlined: “If as Leader of the House, the Prime Minister announces the restoration of judges and it is accepted then when he denies a news item, so also it should be accepted by all fora.”

This observation by Mr. Gilani came a little over 12 hours before the Attorney General is to present to the Supreme Court a written statement from the Prime Minister stating that there was no attempt on the part of the government to dismiss the higher judiciary.

Though Mr. Gilani had issued a press statement late Thursday night as television channels put out reports on such a bid, the Supreme Court -- which took suo motu notice and heard the matter first thing on Friday morning -- sought a signed explanation from the Prime Minister by Monday.

Responding to this controversy, the Prime Minister in his address sought to drive home the point that reconciliation was the cornerstone of his dispensation.

The Government’s effort, he said, was not to confront but work with all institutions of the State and carry all voices of opinion with it even if it is from the Opposition.

To make a point about this spirit of reconciliation and political accountability to the people, Mr. Gilani had an elected representative from each of the provinces including Azad Jammu & Kashmir flank him for the entire duration of the televised address. And, he had words of appreciation for opposition leader Nawaz Sharif though the former Prime Minister had lambasted the Government just hours ahead of the much-awaited address to the nation.

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