PPP authorises Gilani to dissolve cabinet
05 February, 2011
ISLAMABAD: The Central Executive Committee of the ruling PPP on Friday authorised Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to dissolve his cabinet and form a smaller one of honest, competent and efficient ministers in consultation with the coalition partners.
“Resignations have been submitted to the PPP Co-chairman and President Asif Ali Zardari,” said PPP Secretary General Jehangir Badar and PPP Information Secretary Fauzia Wahab while addressing a joint press conference here at the PPP Secretariat after the CEC meeting at the Presidency.
The decision was taken after the co-chairman invited the CEC members’ comments on his intention to have a “mean, lean and above board cabinet”. All the ministers, advisers, special assistants and those holding the rank of ministers will cease to hold offices on a date to be decided by the prime minister in consultation with coalition partners and under guidance and advice of the party’s Co-chairman President Asif Ali Zardari.
New cabinet ministers will be appointed soon thereafter in batches, it was further decided. “It is the discretion of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to dissolve the cabinet and announce a new one,” he added.
He did not agree with the questioner that the decision was made on the demand of the PML-N leader Mian Nawaz Sharif. He said it was the PPP’s own decision to bring in a new cabinet with an eye on the elections due in two years.
Jehangir Badar said commerce minister Amin Fahim was the first to hand over his resignation to the co-chairman and other ministers followed him. He said the CEC meeting was held to discuss the challenges being faced by the country with particular reference to the economic situation and the war against terrorism.
He said the CEC reposed confidence in the PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and paid tributes to him for all the achievements of the past three years. Asked whether the MQM and JUI-F would be given representation in the new cabinet, Jehangir Badar said, “Yes, consultation for the cabinet will be made with all the allies and coalition partners.”
On whether the report on Benazir Bhutto’s murder also came up for discussion, he said it did come under discussion and the CEC was informed that the concerned cabinet ministers had made a presentation to Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari when he came to Pakistan. In the next meeting of the CEC, which will also be attended by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the report will be presented.
In reply to another question, he said the PPP wanted that the democratic government should complete its constitutional tenure and that was why it was always ready to talk to every political party. “The PPP will hold the next elections in a free, fair and transparent manner.”
Asked about the reports of President Asif Ali Zardari’s secret marriage, the PPP secretary general said this issue was raised in the meeting and President Zardari contradicted these reports, saying, “I am married to the mission of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto.”
In the CEC meeting, the president touched upon a number of issues ranging from progress on investigation into the assassination of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto to a broad overview of the government’s performance during the last three years and strategy to revitalise the economy. “I will continue to play the role of guiding the party and government,” he added.
About the investigation into Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, the president said that significant progress had been made and some accused were already in custody. They will be tried and punished under the law. “No one involved in this crime in any way will be allowed to get away with it,” he said.
“The president paid tributes to late Salmaan Taseer, describing him as a martyr in the cause of protecting the rights of minorities and who courageously expressed his reservations against the laws that had been misused to settle personal and political scores behind the faÁade of religion.”
He said that he had sent his sister Ms. Faryal Talpur to Salmaan Taseer’s family on the day of the assassination for condolence and he also visited the family a few days later. The president said that the prime minister had already made the position of the government clear on the blasphemy law on the floor of the House. He said the PM had also invited religious leaders and political parties to work together in finding a solution so that the misuse of the law could be prevented.
“There is no other forum better than parliament for this purpose,” the president said. Talking about the incident in Lahore of a US national involved in the murder of Pakistani nationals, the president said that the government had taken a principled position that the matter was before the judiciary, whose verdict should be awaited and respected.
The president also made an impassioned plea against exploiting the incident for political point scoring. Separately, after the decision of the PPP Central Executive Committee to politically empower Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to dissolve the federal cabinet and form a new one, political contacts paced up as President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani started consultation with the political leadership, particularly the coalition partners.
President Zardari on Friday night telephoned PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif and informed him about the decision of the CEC to dissolve the cabinet. However, Presidential Spokesman Farhatullah Babar said the current political situation was discussed.
The sources said President Zardari also telephoned JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman and invited his party back to the coalition. However, the sources said Fazlur Rehman refused to become a part of the coalition. Prime Minister Gilani talked to leaders of various political parties over telephone on Friday evening for consultation on reducing the size of the federal cabinet in accordance with austerity measures being taken in the wake of economic difficulties.
The premier also talked to Nawaz Sharif, PML-F Quaid Pir Syed Mardan Shah, MQM chief Altaf Hussain, ANP president Asfandyar Wali, JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman and Fata parliamentarian Munir Khan Orakzai. Prime Minister Gilani also talked to PML-Q chief Ch Shujaat Hussain over telephone and consulted him on the issue. Shujaat Hussain appreciated the government’s decision to reduce the size of the cabinet.