Zardari not becoming Pakistan’s PM: Presidency (Lead)

December 30th, 2008 - 4:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Gordon BrownIslamabad, Dec 30 (IANS) Pakistan’s presidency Tuesday denied any move to change the present setup even as a report in a leading English daily claimed that there is a serious rift between President Asif Ali Zardari and his handpicked Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.Terming as “ridiculous and baseless” reports in Indian media, the presidency in a statement said Zardari does not want to take over Gilani’s authority.

However, The News, in a report headlined “All is not well between country’s two top offices”, said Gilani is running out of patience over the increasing interference of the presidency in the day-to-day running of the government due to which “differences between the top two offices of the country have already cropped up”.

And, background interviews with members of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) suggest that Zardari was facing serious problems in running the government according to his “wishes”.

The News report, by its Editor (Investigation) Ansar Abbasi, said: “Gilani is in a defiant mood and wants to run the government as the real chief executive.”

Quoting unnamed sources, the report said that Gilani had raised “a hue and cry” over British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s joint press conference with Zardari during the former’s recent visit to Pakistan. Gilani insisted that the protocol demanded that such a press conference should have been addressed by the two prime ministers.

Sources in PPP said that Gilani, in discussions with his party colleagues, also criticized the presidency for taking a call purpotedly made by Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks. The call turned out to be hoax.

“(It is not for) the president to take calls by foreign ministers of other countries… such calls should diverted to the relevant people,” PPP leader Iftikhar Gillani said in a television talk show.

The News report said that the prime minister has changed two key bureaucrats who were suspected of reporting directly to the presidency.

The report said that the issue of re-appointing thousands of political appointees of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s second regime is being pressed by the presidency but Gilani is reluctant to do anything that might land him in trouble later on. This issue, it is said, was the first major point of difference between Zardari and Gilani.

The report said that Siraj Shamsuddin, who was considered Zardari’s close confidante, was recently relieved from his post as the prime minister’s principal secretary because Gilani was not comfortable with him. The report said that Gilani was so angry with his former principal secretary that he tossed an official file that Shamsuddin wanted him to sign, hitting the wall of his office.

The file, it is said, dealt with the re-appointment of sacked employees.

According to the report, Gilani at a cabinet meeting, expressed his reservations about the en-bloc reinstatement/re-appointment of the sacked political appointees of the last PPP regime. The objective, though apparently approved by the cabinet, is still far from being realised to the satisfaction of the presidency.

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