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Gilani frustrates the opponents of President Zardari.

Agents of the anti-democracy establishment in Pakistani media and politics are indeed frustrated by the failure of their plans to create a rift between President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani. Here is an excerpt of Gilani’s interview in which he played down reports of a deepening rift between him and the president. This is followed by a critical analysis by Abbas Ather:

I run the country, not Zardari: PM Gilani
DawnNews Report
Monday, 30 Nov, 2009

BERLIN: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told a German press agency that he runs the government and not President Asif Ali Zadari, DawnNews reported.

Gilani said in the interview during his visit to Germany that he was the chief executive and in a parliamentary system of government the chief executive was the head of the government.

Zardari, he said was the head of the state, and that it was a ‘childish question who runs the government.’ However he downplayed suggestions of differences between him and Zardari on the issue.

In a symbolic move, an embattled President Zardari amended a key law last week to relinquish the executive control over the country’s nuclear weapons to the prime minister.

Gilani said Sunday that the transfer of the powers was ‘a true litmus test’ of relations between him and the president, whose popularity has sunk significantly since he took over in September 2008.

Applauding the move, Shahbaz Sharif, the chief minister of the country’s largest province and an opposition leader, asked the president to shed the rest of the powers before it’s too late. ‘The nation would appreciate this act,’ Sharif told reporters Sunday.

Analysts have argued that Zardari’s reluctance to take the ceremonial role is leaving the country with a ‘lack of unity of command’ that is essential, especially at a time when the country is in the midst of a crucial fight against Taliban.

Gilani dispelled the impression that the Pakistan was ‘leaderless.’

‘It’s just a perception, not reality,’ Gilani told DPA. ‘There is difference of opinion … but that does not mean that the government is not stable.’

He said the recent ‘successful’ military offensives against the Taliban in north-western districts of Swat and South Waziristan showed that Pakistan did not ‘lack unity of command.’— DawnNews

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