No early polls, govt will finish its term: Gilani

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, whose government has been rocked by a series of crises, today dismissed any chance of early polls, saying the next general election would be held as scheduled in 2013. The government will follow the constitutional and due legal process to hold the next general election, Gilani told reporters on the sidelines of an official event in his hometown of Multan.

"Some have-nots wish to become haves and they talk of elections. But they don`t know that we will act according to the law and constitution. We are moving according to the consensus in parliament," he said. Asked about relations between President Asif Ali Zardari and army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Gilani said, "Their relations are very good".

He rejected media reports that he had "begged" the army chief to accept a three-year extension in service last year, and said there was confusion on the issue due to the English translation of his remarks in Urdu. Gilani said the coalition government led by the Pakistan People`s Party is stable and all political parties have agreed that the parliament should complete its tenure. The hue and cry for early polls was aimed at sabotaging elections to the Senate or upper house of parliament scheduled for March, he contended.

The PPP-led government has faced pressure from the powerful security establishment in recent weeks over an alleged memo that sought US help to stave off a possible military takeover in Pakistan after the killing of Osama bin Laden in May. In response to a question about Pakistan`s relations with the US in the wake of the NATO air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last month, Gilani said the revised foreign policy for ties with the US and NATO would be approved by parliament.

The Parliamentary Committee on National Security was preparing recommendations for new terms of engagement with the US that will be debated during a joint session of the two houses of parliament, Gilani said. Pakistan wants a stable and strong Afghanistan and intends to maintain friendly relations with the neighbouring country, he said in response to another question.

Replying to a query, Gilani said the PPP and its allies would try to forge consensus on the demand to create a Seraiki province in southern Punjab. The demand enjoyed the support of the partners in the PPP-led coalition, he said. Asked about the growing stature of Imran Khan`s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party, Gilani said the PPP`s committed workers were not threatened by such parties. "Parties that are formed overnight usually end overnight," he said.