PM Gilani, cabinet shoot down resolution on aid bill
Wednesday September 30, 2009 (0929 PST)
Debate on Kerry Lugar Bill before hand: PM Gilani
"Judiciary, media keep govt on track": PM Gilani
ISLAMABAD: A desperate attempt by a top minister, who accompanied President Asif Zardari to the US, to get a resolution passed by the federal cabinet in favour of the Kerry-Lugar bill was shot down by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in the last meeting.
Some cabinet members also joined the PM in rejecting the proposed resolution. The resolution was meant to say “Thank you America for the passage of the historic Kerry-Luger bill”.
Top official sources said thecabinet members were shocked when one of the most powerful ministers of the Gilani cabinet suddenly produced a handwritten resolution from his pocket and wanted to table it before his cabinet colleagues for approval.
Earlier, the sources said, as the cabinet meeting started on Monday, the excited minister, who had specifically rushed to Islamabad from Washington for this very purpose instead of travelling with Zardari to Italy, produced a piece of paper from his pocket and asked Gilani and his cabinet to stamp their approval on this resolution.
The sources said the minister was in such a hurry that he even did not wait for the agenda items to be finished. But, the sources added, Gilani and his shocked ministers were wondering how someone could produce a piece of paper from his pocket to be passed as a resolution, particularly when there was no debate on the formal agenda. Gilani told the impatient minister to let everybody first finish discussing the agenda items. The sources said the minister was so keen to get his resolution passed that despite Gilani’s intervention, he twice tried to read the contents of the resolution. However, Gilani once again interrupted and did not allow the minister to read the resolution.
Nevertheless, the minister impatiently waited to pass his resolution after debate on the agenda. As the cabinet meeting finished discussion, the minister, who was said to be sitting over the edge of his chair, did not waste a second and started reading the resolution. According to the resolution, the government and the people of Pakistan expressed their deep sense of gratitude for the American government and its people for the Kerry Luger bill.
The sources said Parliamentary Affairs Minister Dr Babar Awan was the first to express objection to the resolution. Awan was of the view that before reading the resolution to say thank you to America, the minister must wait for objections being aired from different quarters. The sources quoted Awan as saying that the Kerry-Luger bill was yet to be “carried through” in the American Senate and that “we must wait for its full passage before expressing gratitude to America”. Dr Awan told his cabinet colleagues that the bill could be changed or redrafted at any stage of its passage. He believed that this was the basic democratic right of the American parliament to fully debate the bill before giving a final vote in its favour. On the basis of these arguments, Dr Awan was said to have told the cabinet meeting that they should not discuss or approve any resolution as proposed by the minister.
The sources said Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira and Naveed Qamar also opposed the debate and passage of the resolution on similar grounds.
After hearing comments from several ministers, Gilani observed that the cabinet could not discuss anything “half baked” like this resolution. Gilani was of the view that unless the bill reached final shape, the cabinet could not discuss or approve any resolution. The PM also told the meeting that if there was ever any need to get a resolution approved by the cabinet, it would be first discussed at the forum of the PPP and even the issue could be referred to the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the party.
The sources said the minister, who wanted the resolution to be passed at all costs, however, took a new turn and produced another resolution from his pocket. This time he wanted his cabinet colleagues to appreciate the role of the Friends of Pakistan in a bid to send a loud message to those who were helping the country. Upon this, the prime minister looked at Hina Rabbani Khar and asked how much money had been received so far from the Friends of Pakistan. Upon this, Ms Rabbani replied that only Britain had given the pledged money.
The sources said a visibly irritated Gilani told the excited minister: “Mr minister, you never have proper and full information when you bring such serious issues before the cabinet. Why do you want to bring a resolution to the cabinet when you don’t have done proper homework? No more debate on any resolution.”
The minister had not even bothered to formally discuss the resolution with the PM prior to the meeting. The minister was so confident that he did not even lobby among his cabinet colleagues before presenting the resolution.