IMRAN MUKHTAR

ISLAMABAD – Amid mounting PML-N pressure on the convicted prime minister to quit, the ruling coalition Thursday got passed resolutions in his favour from both houses of the parliament, Sindh Assembly and AJK Legislative Assembly.Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly is also set to adopt a similar resolution today (Friday) to repose confidence in Yousuf Raza Gilani, who was handed down a symbolic sentence by the Supreme Court for bringing ridicule to the court and refusing to write to Swiss authorities for reopening graft cases against his party boss President Asif Ali Zardari.To further deflect attention from the conviction issue, the coalition got adopted another resolution from the lower house of the federal legislature for the creation of a Seraiki province, which, if realised, would split the most populous province of Punjab – being ruled by the PML-N since the 2008 elections. This shrewd move of the ruling coalition forced the PML-N to come up with its own plan of four new provinces: South Punjab, Bahawalpur, Hazara and Fata.Observers believe that political necessities will force both the ruling coalition and the opposition to take practical measures to set up new province(s) much before they had actually planned to do. To win the hearts and minds of the voters living in the areas calling for province’s status for them, both the sides would have to do something to honour their commitments much before the next elections.The national assembly passed pro-Gilani and pro-Seraiki province resolutions amidst uproar and intense sloganeering by opposition PML-N. Both were presented back-to-back by Law Minister Farooq H Naek and passed with a thumping support of PPP’s coalition partners in the house. The session, marred by sloganeering by the PML-N members, was scheduled to begin at 10:30am but it began at 12:22pm instead. The PML-N MNAs arrived in the assembly with placards and wearing black armbands to protest against Prime Minister Gilani’s refusal to step down after he was convicted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The placards were inscribed with such slogans: “Seat Khali Hay, Barayee Farokht” (the seat is unfilled, it’s for sale), ‘Convicted PM not Acceptable ‘, ‘Corrupt Government Not Acceptable’, ‘Gilani Raj Namanzor’, and ‘Ali Baba Chalees Chorr’. Leader of the Opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan sat silently in the tenth row and did not take part in the protest, while PM Gilani himself did not turn up in the house. The PML-N legislators on their third consecutive day of protest against PM Gilani, gathered around the PM’s seat and rostrum even before the start of the session. After about 25 minutes to the Question-Hour session, PPP with the support of allied parties brought the two resolutions in the house that adopted those in just around 5 minutes.The resolution adopted in support of new province said the house resolves that in order to address grievances and to secure the political, administrative and economic interests of the people of the Southern Region of Punjab and to empower them, it was expedient that a new province to be known as Janoobi Punjab be created. It called upon Punjab Assembly to bring a bill in the provincial assembly to amend the constitution as per article 239(4) of the constitution for altering the limits of the province to create Janoobi Punjab.The second resolution read that lower house of parliament reposes complete confidence in Gilani as the constitutionally and democratically elected prime minister. He was commended for ‘upholding majesty of law’ by personally appearing thrice in the Supreme Court and ‘showing great humility’ and respect to the apex court.In a thinly-veiled reference to Gilani’s refusal to write letter to the Swiss authorities saying that constitution grants presidential immunity to Zardari, the resolution said: “The house also appreciates the firmness and dignity displayed by Prime Minister Gilani in upholding the constitution and the parliamentary democracy in the country.“It also said the assembly reaffirms its belief in the constitutional procedure for the disqualification of a prime minister and that any other procedure adopted will be considered unconstitutional.On the second resolution, about reposing confidence in Prime Minister Gilani, some members from both sides of the aisle shouted full throat slogans in favour and against the PPP government and they were about to indulge in physical fight when other members with their timely intervention cooled down the situation. Particularly, PML-N member Abid Sher Ali and treasury member Akhunzada Chattan engaged in a brawl and started raising slogans in support and against the government.Earlier, when torn copies of agenda items were thrown on Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira while he was responding to a supplementary question, he commented that there should be respect of parliament. “The champion of the democracy are behaving in such a way which is against the norms.“Adding her share, Speaker Fehmida Mirza also advised the PML-N member not to set unethical tradition in the parliament. “Please observe the decorum of the house,” she remarked but her intervention proved futile and PML-N members continued with their sloganeering.On the other hand, the Senate, in its Thursday evening session, also passed a resolution reposing complete confidence in Prime Minister Gilani, in the absence of PML-N that walked out of the house over the issue of PM’s legality. The resolution, moved by Leader of the House in Senate Jehangir Badar read the same as the one presented in the national assembly.Earlier, during the Question Hour, PML-N’s Sajid Mir said that after prime minister’s conviction neither the PM nor his cabinet exists constitutionally. “So, how could the ministers answer the questions when constitutionally they were no more members of the cabinet,” he questioned, before PML-N walked out of the house. Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira responded that PML-N wanted to impose the SC short order on the PM. He said they respected the court verdict but would not accept the Sharifs’ court.State Minister for Interior Imtiaz Safdar Warriach withdrew from the house the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2010. Law Minister Farooq H Naek laid before the senate the Drug Regulatory Agency of Pakistan Ordinance, 2010 (Ordinance No.1 of 2012) as required by clause (2) of article 89 of the constitution.Staff Reporter adds from Karachi: The Sindh Assembly Thursday also reposed full confidence in the leadership of Premier Gilani. “This house reposes complete confidence in Yousuf Raza Gilani as the constitutionally and democratically elected prime minister of Pakistan,” stated a joint resolution tabled by Sindh Law Minister Muhammad Ayaz Soomro and Senior Minister for Education Pir Mazharul Haq.“It (the house) commends the prime minister for upholding the majesty of the law by appearing thrice before an apex court bench. It also appreciates the firmness and dignity displayed by him in upholding the Constitution… The House also wishes to reaffirm its belief in the constitutional procedure for the disqualification of a prime minister from holding the office and that any other procedure adopted will be considered as unconstitutional.”