The prime minister's word should be "respected by everyone", Pakistan premier Yousuf Raza Gilani said in Islamabad while referring to a Supreme Court directive for a written assurance that the government would not withdraw an executive order restoring the status of superior court judges.
"When the prime minister says something, whether it is verbally or in writing, it ought to be respected by everyone," Gilani said in his televised address to the nation on Sunday night.
The prime minister was referring to his verbal assurance made on Thursday night in response to media reports that the government was planning to withdraw the order restoring the judiciary, Dawn reported on Monday.
Some channels had run the news that the government was planning to withdraw the notification through which superior courts’ judges removed by former president Pervez Musharraf in the Nov 3, 2007 ‘Emergency Plus’ order were restored to their Nov 2, 2007 positions.
In his speech, Gilani simply stated the policy of his government that was becoming clear to observers since the morning of Oct 15 when the apex court asked for the written assurance from the prime minister.
The media report said that the silence and lack of action from the Prime Minister’s House on that day indicated that the Pakistan Peoples Party was about to dig in its heels on the issue.
Gilani spoke about the role and the prestige of the prime minister’s office.
“If he (the prime minister) refutes a news item on Monday, the prestige of the office demands that the refutation is accepted on all forums. If a false report spread is preferred on what the prime minister says, it is tantamount to insulting the office of prime minister.”
He went on to remind listeners about other decisive verbal orders he had given.
“When the prime minister verbally ordered the release of judges as soon as the PPP government took over, no one dared to keep them under detention and later on when he announced the reinstatement of the honourable judges it was again implemented.”
Gilani read out the written speech and the telecast last for about 25 minutes. Among others, he was flanked by two provincial chief ministers -- Balochistan’s Nawab Aslam Raeesani and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Amir Haider Khan Hoti -- and the senior ministers of Punjab and Sindh -- Raja Riaz and Pir Mazharul Haq.
Dawn said that for observers, this was a silent message of the government’s moral and democratic strength and for those looking for a slightly more aggressive message, the line-up of the provincial representatives was a reminder of the federal government’s widespread support to counter the whispers that an in-house change of the prime minister or of the ruling party is a possibility.
An analyst said that “the government was saying between the lines that if it was sent home, it would not be alone”.
Gilani, however, tried to reach out to the judiciary.
Talking about the need for the government and the judiciary to provide legal, social and economic justice to the people, he said: “For this purpose, I am ready to sit with the honourable judges and I am even ready to set up a body for this purpose.”