Pakistan prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani says he has “no problem” working with opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, adding he wants to immediately lift federal rule in Punjab.
“I am sure we can work with Nawaz Sharif in strengthening the democratic process,” Gilani told The Times, London, in an interview published on Friday. “I have no problem working with Mr Sharif,” he added.
Gilani said that he wanted to lift the federal rule in Punjab province immediately, which was imposed last month after the Supreme Court banned former prime minister Sharif and his brother Shahbaz from holding elected office.
Although the government has appealed against the ruling, the paper said president Asif Ali Zardari appears to be stalling on ending federal rule.
Gilani, who has emerged as a surprise challenger to Zardari's authority, also said he wanted to implement a 'charter of democracy' that was signed by Zardari's slain wife Benazir Bhutto and Sharif in 2006.
One of the charter's key demands is to return to the office of the prime minister powers to appoint the army chief, Supreme Court judges and the election commission chief, and to send back for review any bill passed by parliament.
“For a new Pakistan, we need to implement the charter of democracy signed by two former prime ministers. I think this is the way forward,” Gilani said in his first interview since the end of the Zardari-Sharif stand-off on Sunday.
“We have to return to parliamentary democracy on the lines of Westminster. We are committed to end this imbalance in the country's power structure,” the prime minister said.
The return of such powers, which were usurped by former president general Pervez Musharraf, would make Gilani the country's undisputed chief executive and “allow Mr Sharif to inherit those powers if he wins the next election, as is widely expected,” The Times said.