ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday sent an unambiguous and loud message to Pope Benedict XVI that Pakistan would act upon its own law, spurning his call to abrogate the blasphemy law.
Prime Minister Gilani’s response came in a press talk after the OIC village’s inaugural ceremony when asked about the government’s response to Pope Benedict’s statement. Prime Minister Gilani once again reiterated his government’s stance that there would be no amendments to the blasphemy law. “This controversy should end as I have repeatedly assured that there will be no amendments to the blasphemy law. The media should show responsibility in this regard,” he added.
Asked whether he had formally received the 10-point national agenda of PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, he said he had received the agenda and it would be implemented together with all the political forces of the country. “We will also seek cooperation and guidance from Nawaz Sharif and the parliamentary leaders of other political parties also have the same viewpoint to resolve the problems. We will also take themalong,” the premier added.
About reports of involvement of his family in the Haj Scam, he did not agree with the questioner, saying families were targeted in politics. “As far as the issue of Haj scam is concerned, only those MNAs of the PML-N are levelling allegations whom I made the members of the parliamentary committee to probe into the scam and their report is lying in parliament, so it is better to read this report,” he said. He did not offer further comment on the issue, saying the matter was sub judice.
About the reshuffle in the cabinet, the premier said: “It is my prerogative.” He gave the same reply when asked about the appointment of the new Punjab governor, saying it was also his prerogative. The premier’s replies gave the impression that he wanted to keep his cards close to his chest on the issues.
About reports on the IMF pressure for the privatisation of state-owned entities, the premier replied in the negative, saying there was no pressure of the IMF and “we will do whatever is in the interest of the country”. “Whatever the government can do within its limited resources, it will do for the welfare of the people as it is a government of the people,” he added. Asked if he would convince Maulana Fazlur Rehman to return to the fold of the ruling coalition, he only remarked: “I always respect him a lot.”