Faced with the dilemma of writing the letter to Swiss authorities or bracing for the apex court’s wrath, Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on Saturday sought the advice of the person most-affected by the issue – former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.
Premier Ashraf visited his predecessor’s residence at the end of a busy day in Lahore.
“I visited Gilani to pay tribute to him – he is our party’s senior vice chairman,” the premier said while addressing the media at Gilani’s house.
He said that he found the former premier in high spirits, and received a lot of advice for the future.
Asked if he will follow in Gilani’s footsteps regarding writing the letter, the former premier interjected and said: “We will cross the bridge when we get there.”
Asked again, Prime Minister Ashraf said he could not give a reply right away since he is in consultation with his party leadership and allies.
Earlier, while talking to senior journalists, the premier had said that he would submit his reply to the court on the Swiss letter issue on July 12.
According to an official handout, the premier had said that immunity is not just for the Pakistani president but for leaders across the world. He cited the example of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy who enjoyed immunity till he was in office.
The issue has been played out of proportion and there is no ambiguity on the issue of presidential Immunity, the handout quoted the premier as saying.
“Institutions should work within their constitutional ambit and let the people decide the future of the democratically-elected government,” he said.
The premier also sought the opposition’s cooperation in resolving multiple challenges faced by the government.
“I respect the Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) leadership and the mandate of the Punjab government,” he said, adding that he was expecting a positive response from the PML-N leadership on cooperation on the appointment of a chief election commissioner.
The premier also talked about rental power plant contracts and said that they were awarded on merit.
Advances were returned overnight on the instructions of the Supreme Court, he said, adding that this indicated that the money was not misappropriated, otherwise billions of rupees could not have been returned overnight.
Earlier in the day, the premier met with a delegation of senior journalists, Peoples Lawyer Forum, Punjab parliamentary party of the Pakistan Peoples Party, and visited the mausoleum of Allama Iqbal.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2012.