Islamabad: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said he will use all options available to him to defend the Constitution and to appeal against his conviction of contempt by Pakistan's Supreme Court.
"Come what may, I will protect the Constitution of Pakistan. I will go to the last limit and exhaust all my options and exercise my right to appeal," Gilani told a gathering of leaders and workers of the Pakistan People's Party at a hotel in London.
The premier on Sunday ended an official visit to Britain, his first foreign trip following his conviction last month. Gilani said he would not be deterred by any threat as his case is related to the interpretation of the Constitution and his only crime was protecting the Constitution.
Gilani said he will not be deterred by any threat as his case is related to the interpretation of the Constitution.
"I am not one of those who will stab the (PPP) in the back as I believe that, under Article 248 of the Constitution and the Vienna Convention, the President of Pakistan has complete immunity," he said.
The apex court convicted Gilani of contempt on April 26 and gave him a symbolic sentence of less than a minute after he refused to act on orders to revive graft cases in Switzerland against President Asif Ali Zardari.
Gilani has refused to act on the court's orders, saying the President enjoys complete immunity in Pakistan and abroad. Gilani told the gathering that he was "not required to write any letter" to Swiss authorities to reopen the cases as it would be a "violation of the Constitution".
He expressed his resolve to protect the country and said, "We will reject any unconstitutional step in Pakistan". Noting that the opposition wants him to resign on moral grounds, Gilani said: "But I want to know why hundreds of cases are lying pending with the courts and I wish that a decision is taken on these cases as well".
Gilani pointed out that there were several cases against PML-N leaders Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif that were pending with the National Accountability Bureau, Pakistan's main anti-corruption agency, while several more cases were with the judiciary.
"While cases against Nawaz Sharif are pending in the courts, how are they taking out rallies in support of the judiciary? Would it not embarrass the judiciary?" he asked.
Gilani further said that he had been convicted of contempt though there is no law for contempt of court in Pakistan. Legal experts have pointed out that the law used to convict Gilani had lapsed some time ago.
He contended that some "self-created leaders" were now trying in vain to tell the world that he was no longer the Prime Minister of Pakistan. However, the political leadership and royalty of Britain had received him.
"We do not care if you do not accept me. The world acknowledges me, the Constitution of Pakistan recognises me and the people of Pakistan recognise me," he said.
Gilani said the judiciary gave former military ruler Pervez Musharraf the right to oust Nawaz Sharif's government in 1999 and gave approval to all his acts.
He questioned why the PML-N had not protested against these actions of the judiciary. He said the people also wanted to know the details of Sharif's decision to go into self-exile in Saudi Arabia after his government was removed in a coup.
"Nawaz Sharif left the country after a plea bargain, which was a confession, and pledged not to be part of any politics for ten years," he said.
Gilani described this as an act that would be "shameful for any politician".