Saturday 19 January 2019

Zardari vows support for embattled PM

Islamabad, January 3, 2011

Pakistani President Asif Ali  Zardari threw his weight on Monday behind beleaguered Prime  Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani against any attempts to destabilise  his government after a key partner quit the ruling coalition.     

The opposition has not yet sought a no-confidence vote  against Gilani in parliament but analysts said that was the  biggest worry for the prime minister as he scrambled to shore  up support.

Gilani's government lost its parliamentary majority on  Sunday when the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) announced it  would go into opposition over government fuel price policies  that it said were 'unbearable' for Pakistanis.

The political upheaval comes at a time when the United  States has increased pressure on Pakistan to go after Islamist  militant groups to help it turn around the faltering war in  Afghanistan.

It adds to the Pakistani government's problems at home as  it struggles to meet demands placed on it by the International  Monetary Fund, including politically sensitive tax reforms, in  return for the remaining tranches of an $11 billion loan.

'(Zardari) has full confidence in Prime Minister Yusuf  Raza Gilani and solidly stands behind him in foiling any  attempt to destabilise the coalition government,' presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said in a statement.

The president and prime minister are from the same  political party and both would be loath to see an early  general election.

The country's main stock index ended 1.44 percent  lower, reflecting concerns over the stability of the  government, traders said.

The fall in the Karachi Stock Exchange contrasted with a  rise in stocks elsewhere in Asia. The MSCI index of Asian  shares outside of Japan rose 0.9 percent on  Monday, although several markets were closed for a holiday.

The government is 12 seats short of the number it would  need to survive a no-confidence vote. 'From this point onward, the government will be on  crutches. The no-confidence vote is a threat for it,' said  Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, executive director of the Pakistan  Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency.

Many Pakistanis are fed up with their civilian leaders. Labourer Mohammad Haider Ali said his first choice would  be cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan.

'If Imran Khan cannot come, then martial law should come. General (Ashfaq) Kayani, he would be best of all ... a big  stick!,' he said, referring to the army chief and expressing a  desire for perceived decisive military leadership.     

Analysts say they do not expect the military to intervene,  although that could not be ruled out if the situation  degenerated into chaos. The military has ruled Pakistan for  more than half of its history.

The MQM has not taken any decision on a vote on the  government, party leader Faisal Subzwari told Reuters. The  party said its senators had submitted a motion seeking a  rollback of fuel price rises.

Since January 1, the petrol price has risen by 9 percent,  adding to inflationary pressure in a country where frustration  is spreading over poverty, corruption and power cuts. - Reuters   

Tags: Pakistan | Gilani | Zardari |


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