LONDON: Former prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has said that only Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has the genuine youth leadership in the shape of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari while all other parties have their leaders who have crossed their 60s and therefore their claim of representing the youth of Pakistan is misplaced.
Mr Gilani was delivering a keynote lecture to “Pakistan Future Leaders Conference” at Oxford University on Sunday. Renowned nationalist Pashtun leader Mehmood Khan Achakzai was also present on this occasion and delivered a speech prior to Yusuf Raza Gilani.
The three-day conference was organised by the Pakistan Society of the Oxford University and was attended by a large number of Pakistani students studying in the UK. Gilani told students how his government worked hard to ensure that the democratic transition was not derailed and that all the institutions were on the same page and democratic traditions were strengthened as well as genuine reforms were brought to take Pakistan forward.
He said that by restoring the Constitution of 1973, his government had helped strengthen the Federation.
Gilani said that his party would not allow anyone to abrogate the Constitution again as his party had offered huge sacrifices in defence of democracy and the Constitution.
“We made Parliament powerful and made the prime minister answerable to both the Houses. In the Upper House there was no representation of minorities, we made amendments to the Constitution and as a result minorities are represented in the Senate. Nawaz Sharif has become prime minister again because of the amendments we introduced,” said Gilani.
He said that terrorism was Pakistan’s biggest problem and it was due to this recognition that he took Parliament into confidence and ordered Swat and Malakand operation.
Gilani said that Pakistan had paid a huge price in the war against terrorism and Pakistan’s frontline status meant that the country was fighting on behalf of the world.
The former PM said that his son remained missing which was linked to Pakistan’s fight against terrorism and religious militancy. “After my son was kidnapped, the first call I received was from Abu Yazid who said that my son had been kidnapped as a revenge for our operation against the militants,” said Gilani, adding, “You have to pay a price for becoming the prime minister”.
Gilani said if Parliament was strong, there was no need to be threatened by other institutions. Gilani claimed that Pakistan’s establishment was answerable to him while he was the PM and heads of Pakistan’s spy agencies “felt proud to come before Parliament”. He said, “That’s the change I gave to Parliament. They were made answerable. We ensured freedom of press and increase rights of minorities.”
Gilani admitted that his party failed to highlight the good work which was done in 5 years and blamed this for his own party’s poor media handling. “We were not able to sell ourselves properly. We did a lot of good work more than anyone else but we couldn’t market it properly. But it’s also true that we were not given equal opportunities. Other parties could hold rallies but we were bombed, kidnapped and harassed.”
Source: The News