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Updated: January 15, 2012 17:31 IST

Only answerable to Pak Parliament: Gilani

PTI
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Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. File photo
AP Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. File photo

The government and the military have been locked in a confrontation over the alleged memo that had sought U.S. help to stave off a possible coup in Pakistan last year.

Embattled Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Sunday said he was answerable only to the Pakistan Parliament and not to any individual, days after the powerful military reacted angrily to his remarks criticising the army and intelligence chiefs over the memo scandal.

Mr. Gilani dismissed reports that President Asif Ali Zardari had sought an explanation or asked him to retract his remarks about the army and intelligence chiefs acting in an “unconstitutional and illegal” manner while filing affidavits on the memo issue in the Supreme Court.

“I am definitely answerable as Article 91 of the Constitution states the Prime Minister, ministers and ministers of state are answerable to parliament. If anyone has any complaints, I will not answer to any individual as I am answerable to parliament,” he said.

“Whenever parliament wants, I can present my viewpoint before parliament,” Mr. Gilani said while interacting with reporters at Vehari in Punjab province, 500 km from Islamabad.

Mr. Gilani’s comments came after reports in a section of the media said army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had asked President Zardari during a meeting yesterday to direct the premier to explain or retract his remarks.

Mr. Gilani pointed out that the presidency had rejected the media reports.

“You are saying there was talk of an explanation. Gen Kayani met the President and neither you nor I were present during their discussions. I can only accept any statement made by the President. The President has rejected reports that he had sought an explanation from me or that I take back my statement,” he told the reporters in response to questions.

‘I am the people’s representative’

Mr. Gilani made it clear that he the chosen representative of the people and was only answerable to Parliament for his actions.

“I want to tell you that I am a representative of the people, I am the people’s elected Prime Minister. I represent 180 million people and all institutions are working within their domains under the government,” he said.

Asked about reports that he might be removed from the post of Prime Minister due to the standoff with the military, Mr. Gilani said he wanted to see parliament complete its five-year term but had never spoken of sticking to his post.

“I have never said I will remain Prime Minister for five years. But I have definitely said that Parliament will complete its term and people have chosen this parliament for five years,” he said.

“It is necessary for parliament to remain for five years, it is not necessary for the Prime Minister to remain for five years. If someone wants to bring a new Prime Minister according to the Constitution and procedures, we will welcome it,” he added.

The government and the military have been locked in a confrontation over the alleged memo that had sought U.S. help to stave off a possible coup in Pakistan last year.

Mr. Gilani angered the military last week by saying the army and intelligence chiefs had acted illegally by filing affidavits on the memo in the apex court without seeking the government’s approval.

The military rebuked Mr. Gilani, saying his remarks could have “grievous consequences”. Mr. Gilani retaliated the same day by sacking Defence Secretary Lt Gen (retired) Khalid Naeem Lodhi, a confidant of Mr. Kayani, saying he had created misunderstandings over the memo issue.

Mr. Gilani further told the reporters that he had been saying for the last six months that conspiracies were being hatched against the government to stop the Senate elections to be held on March 2. He said the Senate polls will be conducted in line with the announced schedule.

He reiterated that the Defence Secretary was removed in accordance with the law as he had made a mistake by not following the government’s rules.

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