Prime Minister’s defence

Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani

Facing the embarrassment of his son, Ali Musa Gilani, being named in the Rs 7 billion Ephedrine quota case, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has mounted a robust defence of his son and his family, alleging that a media campaign is being conducted against the Gilanis.

The prime minister has taken the cabinet into confidence on the whole affair. According to media reports, the prime minister told the cabinet that various inquiries into the matter, including one by the Senate standing committee on interior, made no mention of Ali Musa in their findings. The committee had been set up under the directions of the standing committee, which included the federal drugs inspector, an FIA deputy director, and the chairman of Quality Control Islamabad. No evidence of Musa’s involvement was discovered. The standing committee chairman constituted another committee consisting of a joint team of experts, the FIA, Quality Control chairman and federal inspector drugs.

This inquiry also could not link Musa with the scandal. Similarly, a joint investigation committee set up by the former minister of health also returned similar findings. The prime minister pointed to an earlier attempt to implicate his elder son, Abdul Qadir Gilani, in the Hajj scandal. Not only was Abdul Qadir Gilani exonerated of any involvement in that case, the Chief Justice of Pakistan had ordered a case to be registered against the MNA who had levelled allegations against Abdul Qadir Gilani on mere hearsay. The cabinet responded by closing ranks with the prime minister and his family against the perceived campaign of “character assassination” against the Gilani family and expressed its resolve to prevent such “victimisation”.

Reports say the prime minister has asked his son Ali Musa to return to the country by cutting short his foreign trip. Given the robust defence the prime minister and the cabinet have mounted of Ali Musa and the prime minister’s family as a whole, this seems the most appropriate step, especially since sections of the media are painting the trip as an attempt to flee accountability in the case. It may be recalled that Ali Musa has recently been elected an MNA from Multan in a by-election. Both as a member of parliament and the son of the incumbent prime minister, the younger Gilani must be aware that the campaign is actually aimed against his father.

There are inimical forces in politics, the media and society that would like nothing better than to see the back of this government. Since all such efforts of the past four years and the almost daily predictions of the imminent fall of the government have proved ineffective, perhaps there are motivated forces adopting the ‘strategy of indirect approach’, i.e. hit the government in an embarrassing manner in its ‘soft underbelly’. It is the easiest thing in the world to toss allegations and accusations around, whether substantiated by the facts or not. Unfortunately, some sections of the media have thrown all sense of responsibility to the winds and either deliberately or inadvertently are lending their shoulders to the wheel of this ‘juggernaut’.

If what the prime minister has shared with the cabinet is correct, and the reports cited suggest that may well be so, the next and most efficacious strategy is for Ali Musa to mount an equally robust defence before the Supreme Court hearing the case, with all possible proofs of past inquiries, etc. It is not for us to suggest what course the honourable court should adopt. However, the impartiality of the court is reflected in the remarks of the Chief Justice of Pakistan the other day during the proceedings that both Ali Musa Gilani and the prime minister’s Principal Secretary Khushnood Lashari must be given a fair hearing whenever they appear before the court in response to its notices. Let the law take its course and the ends of truth and justice be served without indulging in a ‘witch-hunt’ with ulterior political motives. – Dailytimes