No unconstitutional change will take place, PM assures opposition


Amid calls from opposition members to summon a joint session to debate on the controversial secret anti-Pakistan memo written to former US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen and to try those involved in the episode under treason charges, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani assured the Lower House on Friday that the matter would be resolved amicably and no undemocratic or unconstitutional change would take place as such issues did not destabilise countries.
Like the past two days, the latest revelations in the media about the memo written to Admiral Mullen by Mansoor Ijaz, allegedly on behalf of Pakistan’s Ambassador to Washington Hussain Haqqani, dominated the National Assembly proceedings. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MNAs Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Ayaz Amir, Khawaja Asif and Opposition Leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan demanded the government summon Ambassador Haqqani to the National Assembly for a thorough probe into the issue by parliament and try those found involved for treason. “This matter will not end with a resignation from some individual. Mr Zardari should disassociate himself from this issue and bring all those involved in this episode to justice. The prime minister, foreign minister and all concerned should come to the House prepared on Monday to make the situation clear on the memo and urea shortage issues,” said Nisar.
The treasury benches seemed on the defensive, with no one contradicting the memo but assuring the opposition that the matter would not go uninvestigated. Prime Minister Gilani, who attended the session only after severe criticism from PML-N members, tried to sweep the matter under the rug saying the government and the opposition were on the same page over the issue. He said he had already summoned Haqqani in order to investigate the matter, so this issue should not be debated in the House until the findings of the government were shared with parliament.
Taunting PML-N members, Gilani reminded them that the viewpoint of the opposition vis-à-vis the armed forces was a bit different today than soon after the May 2 covert raid by the US that killed al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
GOVT WILL PROTECT INSTITUTIONS: Responding to various points of order from opposition members, Gilani said the government had always defended the country’s armed forces and institutions in the past and it would do so still. He said the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was a national institution and the government would protect it too. “We are resolving the issues in line with the constitution. But those talking about disintegration of the country are wrong. Many things are published in newspapers. Things are also reported against my party or against the opposition. Should we believe all of them? This issue will also be resolved just as we have resolved other issues. Every issue does not cause the country to fall apart,” he said.
‘UNCONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE’: Gilani said no unconstitutional change would take place in the country that could destabilise the political process. “No unconstitutional change will take place before the 2013 elections. You (PML-N) will be given a chance if the people elect you,” he said. Earlier, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, on a point of order, claimed Ambassador Haqqani had hosted a dinner at the Pakistani embassy in Washington where he told the participants that he knew of a US plan to bomb 362 sites in Pakistan, some of which would include “army-related people”.