PPP reposes confidence in Gilani

Islamabad: Amidst calls by the opposition for Yousuf Raza Gilani`s resignation, Pakistan`s ruling PPP today pushed through a resolution in Parliament reposing confidence in the Prime Minister after his conviction by the Supreme Court for contempt.

The resolution moved by Law Minister Farooq Naek opposed any move to remove Gilani through "unconstitutional" means. It was passed amidst protests within the National Assembly or lower house of Parliament by lawmakers of the main opposition PML-N. The opposition members tore up papers and shouted slogans against the Premier.

Gilani was convicted for contempt by the apex court on April 26 and given a symbolic sentence of less than a minute for refusing to act on orders to revive graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. He has rejected demands from the PML-N to resign, saying only the Speaker can disqualify him.

The resolution passed by the National Assembly said: "This House reposes complete confidence in the Prime Minister as the constitutionally and democratically elected Prime Minister and unanimously elected Chief Executive of this country."

It further said: "This House also wishes to reaffirm its belief in the constitutional procedure for the disqualification of the Prime Minister from holding the office and that any other procedure adopted will be considered unconstitutional."

The resolution commended Gilani "for upholding the majesty of law by personally appearing thrice on being summoned by the…Supreme Court and showing great humility and respect to the apex court." It also expressed appreciation for the "firmness and dignity" displayed by Gilani in "upholding the Constitution and Parliamentary democracy in the country."

In an effort to increase pressure on the PML-N government in Punjab, the PPP also pushed through another resolution that called for the creation of a new province in the southern part of Punjab.

Gilani belongs to the area and the PPP has launched a concerted drive in recent weeks to create the new province of Janoobi Punjab. This resolution said the new province should be created to "address the grievances and secure the political, administrative and economic interests of the people of southern region of Punjab province and to empower them."

The resolution, adopted by a majority vote amidst protests by the PML-N, called on the Punjab government to move a bill in provincial assembly asking the federal government to amend the Constitution to create the new province.

"This House… calls upon the provincial assembly of Punjab to present a bill in the Punjab Assembly to amend the Constitution… for passage, which would have the effect of altering the limits of province of Punjab, thereby creating the province of Janoobi Punjab," the resolution said.

During the protests by the PML-N, National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza advised the opposition members not to revive "unethical traditions" in Parliament. "I wish we do not revive those unethical traditions in the House. We should not undermine the supremacy of the Parliament that has been established during last four-and-half years," she said as opposition members shouted slogans against the Premier and waved placards within the House.

Leader of Opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told reporters outside Parliament that a new province cannot be created without the backing of his PML-N party. "It cannot be created with the support of two or three parties. You need a two-thirds majority in the concerned provincial assembly and in the National Assembly and Senate," he said.