Will exhaust all means for a fair trial: Gilani

Islamabad: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday said he would not be coerced out of office through unconstitutional means and would exhaust all means for a fair trial following his conviction of contempt by Pakistan`s Supreme Court.

"I have no yearning to stick to power but I will take it to the finality and exhaust all avenues," Gilani told journalists who accompanied him on an official visit to Britain. He was speaking after the apex court issued its detailed order on the premier`s conviction last month.

Asked about his refusal to implement the apex court`s orders for reopening graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari and his subsequent conviction of contempt, Gilani said the Constitution explicitly spelt out the ways to remove a Prime Minister and that no one could force him out of office through unconstitutional means.

Gilani said he had the right to appeal after the announcement of the apex court`s detailed judgement. The matter of his disqualification will go to the Speaker of the National Assembly and finally to the Chief Election Commissioner, he said. He said all his decisions were in line with the Constitution and that he believed under Article 248(1), he enjoyed complete immunity and had only done what he thought was the right thing.

The apex court convicted Gilani and gave him a symbolic sentence of less than a minute on April 26. The court`s detailed order issued today said Gilani faced the possibility of being disqualified as a parliamentarian for five years following his conviction.

Referring to the PPP`s plans to create the Seraiki province in southern Punjab, the premier said any measures to stop the move could lead to a movement against the PML-N government in Punjab. For the time being, reconciliation is the only way forward as politics of protests succeed only against dictators and not against democratic governments, he added.

Asked about the opposition`s options to oust him, Gilani said all they could do is to resign or wait for the next general election, which will be held once his government completes its term.

In response to a question on whether he saw any threat to his government from the security establishment, Gilani said there was now an atmosphere in Pakistan that favours democracy and will not support any misadventure as the people, media and world community are backing a democratic system.

Gilani has rejected the opposition`s demands for his resignation and said only the Speaker of the National Assembly can decide on his disqualification. During his interaction with the journalists abroad the special aircraft that took him to London, Gilani said: "I took all decisions to the best of my abilities and in line with the rules and procedures, and in good faith…I am proud that I fought for the Constitution of Pakistan."

He said his coalition government enjoyed a two-thirds majority in parliament and the Pakistan People`s Party`s partners had stood by it through thick and thin. "Why should I fear those who are against the Constitution?" he asked.

Gilani dismissed the campaign launched against him by the main opposition PML-N and said the party was merely playing to the galleries. "If they are genuinely interested that I move out of the way, they have to resign from the assemblies and join Imran Khan and others, otherwise there is no other way," he said.

He said he was hurt by the language used by PML-N leaders against him. Though Nawaz Sharif was given a nine-year prison term and stayed away from Pakistan, this was never played up by the PPP, he said.

Asked about the PML-N`s threat to start a long march against the government, Gilani warned that if one of the federating unit launches a movement against another, it was tantamount to be an act of treason.