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May 11, 2012

Unprecedented protests greet Gilani in UK

 
May 11, 2012

LONDON: An unprecedented level of protests met Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani as he arrived at 10 Downing Street to hold talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron Thursday.
The protestors from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Majlis-e-Ulema Shia Europe and Azad Kashmir Muslim League-N began gathering outside the residence of the British prime minister an hour before Prime Minister Gilaniís arrival.
Pakistan Peopleís Party (PPP) activists had also gathered outside Number 10 to greet Prime Minister Gilani and to protest the judicial decision convicting him for contempt of court, but it was clear from the start that the protesters from the opposition greatly outnumbered the pro-PPP activists.
The scale of the protests was so extreme that even Prime Minister Cameron asked the Pakistani premier if he felt safe walking around in London knowing that PML-N activists were staging vociferous protests against him. While tens of thousands of protesters marched outside Downing Street against David Cameronís increasingly unpopular government and the austerity cuts as the two premiers met, on his way to a luncheon at the Savoy Hotel, Cameron joked with Prime Minister Gilani by asking him if the latter felt comfortable taking a short stroll to the venue amidst the protests.
On a lighter note, Prime Minister Gilani told Pakistanis present at the gathering, ìWhen we were coming to launch Conservative Friends of Pakistan in the same car, David Cameron asked me if I would like to take a walk knowing that PML-N and other protesters are out there.î
Meanwhile, bitter and angry Shia protesters alleged that the PPP-led government had failed to protect the Shia community in Pakistan and that the leaders had failed to prosecute even a single terrorist involved in sectarian killings.
Syed Ali Raza, the leader of the protesters told The News: ìWe are saddened by this visit because the prime minister has failed to account the genocide of thousands

of innocent people. Therefore we are demanding that Prime Minister Gilani return immediately back to Pakistan to share in the sadness of weeping widows, orphaned children and mothers who have lost their support of life. We want to make it clear to the prime minister that we will not tolerate the criminal negligence of [the] Pakistani government on the genocide of the Shia people. We will use every platform to raise our voice against the oppression on Shias in Pakistan.î
Similarly, the Pakistan Muslim League demanded that Prime Minister Gilani immediately resign from office and announce fresh elections. They held that the premier had no right to stay in office after having being declared a convict by the Supreme Court: ìYusuf Raza Gilani is now the former prime minister of Pakistan and we have made it clear to the UK government what we think of him. He has come to the UK with a large royal-style entourage and this is nothing but a joke with the people of Pakistan who are suffering due to the economic and political mismanagement of this government,î said Zubair Gull, leader of the UK chapter of the Pakistan Muslim League.
PPP leaders, however, welcomed Prime Minister Gilaniís visit but lashed out at the judiciary for their verdict against the premier. Many of its leaders raised derogatory slogans against the chief justice and blamed the apex court judges for driving a vendetta against them. Chaudhary Riaz ñ an advisor of the Sindh Chief Minister who especially travelled from Pakistan to arrange the welcome gathering for the prime minister ñ told The News that elements within the judiciary were hell bent on punishing PPP leaders while thousands of important cases had been pending for decades with the Supreme Court never even once taking suo motu notice: “There is no doubt that the current judiciary is biased against the PPP government. We are here to make it known that we will stand by Yusuf Raza Gilani through thick and think.”