News / Asia

    Pakistan's PM Appeals for Support Amid Tensions

    Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, (File).
    Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, (File).

    Amid growing tensions between Pakistan's government and the country's powerful military, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is appealing for support from parliament. 

    Pakistan’s increasingly unpopular coalition government and Prime Minister Gilani have lately come under intense pressure from opposition parties as well as army generals for issues such as allegedly poor governance and a controversial memo seeking foreign help to rein in the military.

    Addressing parliament on Friday, the Pakistani prime minister largely rejected criticism of his government’s performance, and denied it is on a path of confrontation with the military.

    Gilani did acknowledged political leaderships are prone to mistakes, but that errors of judgment should not be used to penalize parliament or the democratic system.  He was referring to suggestions that a military coup could be a possible outcome of the ongoing tensions between civilian government ministers and army leaders.  

    The prime minister says now is the time for politicians to decide whether they want democracy or dictatorship in Pakistan.

    Current tensions between Pakistan's powerful military and the civilian government stem from a controversial memo that became public last year - an unsigned note that sought U.S. help to prevent a military coup in Islamabad.  The memo was delivered to the U.S military last year shortly after an American raid killed Osama bin Laden in his hideout in a Pakistani garrison city.  

    Prime Minister Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari, chief of the ruling party, both have denied any link to the memo.  A Supreme Court-appointed judicial commission is investigating the document's origin, authenticity and purpose.

    Gilani told lawmakers Friday that regardless of the outcome of the probe, democracy must survive in Pakistan, where the military has ruled for about half of the country’s 64-year history.

    The prime minister later addressed a ceremony in the eastern city of Lahore to reiterate his support for democracy.

    “The people of Pakistan have now learned a lesson from our own history, that democracy is not easy but it is the only viable option," said Gilani. "Democracies are noisy, reflect power tussles and highlight internal conflicts.  But it is only through democracy that we can work together to forge national unity.”

    While the government rejects the memo as a non-issue, army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has stated before the Supreme Court that the document is a reality.

    Most analysts in Pakistan believe the military leadership does not want a coup.  However, analyst Rasool Bakhsh Rais, a professor of political science, notes that military circles are unhappy with Zardari and Gilani.

    “Actually the national climate today is against military interventions, and all the political parties in Pakistan have agreement on constitutional democracy.  I think that there is a possibility that not the government is going to be overthrown but the head of the state and head of the government, Asif Ali Zardari and Yousuf Raza Gilani, may be declared unfit to hold office,” Rais said.

    If Pakistan's judicial inquiry establishes a link between the memo and the government, that could lead to the impeachment of President Zardari and the removal of Prime Minister Gilani’s Cabinet.  Top leaders of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party contend the military is working with the Supreme Court to seek a "constitutional" dismissal of the government.



    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.