`Stop setting dates` for govt`s ouster: Pak PM to critics

Pakistan Premier asserts his government will complete its full term.

Last Updated: Sep 19, 2010, 15:56 PM IST

Lahore: Pakistan Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani has asserted that his government will complete its full term and warned that any attempt to remove it through unconstitutional means will be tantamount to "a conspiracy to break up the country”.

Gilani abandoned his characteristic non-confrontational approach and adopted a tougher attitude against detractors of his government as he dismissed speculation that the PPP-led coalition was on its way out well before the 2013 general elections.

"We do not fear anyone, we are elected by the people of Pakistan and our strength is Parliament and people of Pakistan. If there is any unconstitutional step which they (detractors and opponents) are thinking about, I say don`t waste your time and mislead the people. You should understand that governments don`t change on your say-so," he said.

The PPP is a federal party with a presence across Pakistan and is playing a key role in uniting the people, he said.

"I have no interest in whether I remain Prime Minister or not...(but) if anyone hatches a conspiracy (to remove the government) he will be hatching a conspiracy to break up the country," Gilani told a gathering organised by the Lahore Chambers of Commerce and Industry last night.

He asked the government`s detractors who they would "bring to unite the country" at a time when it is grappling with unprecedented floods, terrorism and economic problems.

Gilani listed several decisions made by the government, including the release of judges placed under house arrest by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, restoration of the deposed judiciary and three-year extension for Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani; and criticised his detractors for saying they were made due to pressure from different quarters.

The PPP had developed consensus in all provinces and adopted a policy of reconciliation and tolerance while deciding on key national issues, Gilani said as he left little doubt that speculation about the recent removal of his government had touched a raw nerve.

Noting that his critics had initially said he would remain the Premier for only three months and then given him many "extensions”, Gilani said: "Today I will talk frankly. My advice to all those who are predicting the government`s ouster: stop setting dates."

He added: "They (detractor) should sit comfortably. They have wasted a lot of time. Your predictions have all proved wrong... we will not go on your say-so."

However, Gilani did not name the detractors or forces that were working against his government during his speech.

The PPP has been stung by the speculation about the removal of its government in the wake of it inept handling of economic problems and relief efforts in the aftermath of floods that affected 20 million people.

Gilani and PPP chief and President Asif Ali Zardari chaired a meeting of the party`s top leadership on Friday to review the situation and prepare the party for the challenges facing it.

During his speech, Gilani listed terrorism as another major concern for his government, saying suicide attacks had triggered the flight of capital from Pakistan and scared away fresh investments.

"The priority number one for me is to counter terrorism. And if you counter terrorism, you stabilise law and order. Then the economy will develop," he said.

The government will not shy away from broadening the tax base to address the world community`s concerns over tax reforms.

PTI