Gilani Asks Opposition Not to Overblow Memo Isssue

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ISLAMABAD: As the ruling coalition seemed to be closing up its ranks against new political challenges, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani angrily told the opposition in the National Assembly on Friday not to overblow what his government calls a fabricated memorandum critical of Pakistan’s military leadership sent this summer to then US military chief and to better explanation sought from the country’s ambassador to Washington. Some member of the opposition Pakistan Mulslim League-N-(PML-N), including opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, seemed to have eagerly swalloed the poorly drafted memo and claims by its author, a Pakistani-aemrican businessman, that he acted at the behest of Ambassador Husain Haqqani as they demanded  a joint session of parliament to clear up what one of them called ” clouds hovering over Islamabad”. While the prime minister stuck to his Monday’s remarks in the house in response to a speech by the opposition leader that he had summoned athe ambassador to Islamabad for an explanation to the country’s leadership about the cocument sent in May to then-US joint chiefs of staff chairman admiral Mullen and said that untill then raising this point again in the house would only be ” a waste of  time”. But Information and Broadcasting Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan earlier described the document authored by businessman Mansoor Ijaz as ” enigineered” and ” fabricated ” to bring about a ” confrontation” between Pakistan’s state institutions. And the chief whip of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party and Religious Affairs Minister Khursheed Ahmed Shah, speaking after the prime minister had left the  house, said whoever was involved in this “conspiracy” would be exposed. The prime minister said there was “no justification” in raising the matter again after his reply on Monday about the document, whose text, as published in a national Assembly and Senate on what they saw as treasonable act of a confidant  of President Asif Ali Zardari. “This shows he was not acting on his own,” said PML-N member Ayaz Amir about the alleged conduct of Mr Haqqani while apparently pointing a finger at the president. Chaudhry Nisar, who spoke much after the prime minister had left the house, described the memorandum episode as a “small reflection” of the present government’s mode of governance and threatened to charge-sheet the government inside and outside the house if it did not “differentiate between friends and enemies” of Pakistan. The fag-end of the proceedings, before the house was adjourned until 5pm on Monday,also sawa a government-opposition controversy over a prevailing shortage and high prices of fertilisers, with Chaudhry Nisar blaming it on the federal government because of dealeeships allegedly given to favourites while Mr Khursheed Shah said provincial government were rwsponsible for 95  per cent of supplies while Islamabad was responsible only for imports constituting only five per cent of the supplies. Mr Shah took on the opposition leader’s challenge to bring facts before the house on Monday and, while talking of “lakhs of bags (of urea) lying in godowns” in the opposition-ruled Punjab, he said “We will catch five per cent and you catch 95 percent.”

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