Zardari, PPP backing Gilani ‘through thick and thin’

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ISLAMABAD/KARACHI – President Asif Ali Zardari and his Pakistan People’s Party on Monday extended full support to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani through thick and thin, as the prime minister faces a loss of majority in the National Assembly following the departure of the JUI-F and MQM from the coalition.
“The president expressed full confidence and solidly stands behind him in foiling any attempt to destabilise the coalition government,” said a statement quoting the president, who is also the PPP co-chairman. The statement was issued from Karachi where the president was busy in talks, albeit failed, to woo the MQM to return back into the coalition.
President’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar said the president hoped that the prime minister will complete his five-year term despite the manipulations against him. The president also telephoned Gilani and assured the prime minister of his and the PPP’s full support. Babar also rejected media reports that the prime minister was fighting a lonely battle. “The prime minister is not alone, he will not be left alone. The party stands behind him through thick and thin. Let there be no doubt or mistake about it,” Babar said.
Earlier, Zardari remained engaged in political activities and consultations at Bilawal House. He held various meetings with party aides Babar Awan, Rehman Malik and others to discuss the political situation following MQM’s announcement to sit on opposition benches.
Law Minister Babar Awan told reporters after the meeting that the prime minister did not need to take a vote of confidence because President Zardari had not asked him to do so, adding that in his view, the president would not ask the prime minister to take a vote of confidence.
Rehman Malik said negotiations with the MQM leaders were underway and the situation would improve within a few days. Malik said the PPP had some cards left with it, which would be played “at an appropriate time”.
ANP to support PM in ‘no-confidence’: Awami National Party will support the prime minister if a vote of no-confidence is moved against him in the National Assembly, President ANP Asfandyar Wali said while talking to reporters on Monday. “We are a coalition partner and we will support the prime minister”, Asfandyar said.
“ANP has certain traditions and we never leave our friends in lurch. We should not be supposed to leave the government in testing times,” he said.