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Pakistan PM says democracy at stake

With his government at risk of dissolution, Yousuf Raza Gilani, the Pakistani prime minister, has called on parliament 2 choose between democracy and dicta2rship.

Seeking support from their coalition partners, members of Gilani's ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP), taking part in an emergency parliamentary session on Friday, introduced a resolution 2 endorse democracy .

2 be debated in the lower house on Monday, the resolution expressed "full confidence and trust" in the current civilian government.

The resolution also calls 4 all state institutions 2 operate within the bounds of the nation's constitution, a statement believed 2 be an affront 2 the nation's powerful military, which has been accused of interfering in the nation's political matters.

“It must be decided whether there will be democracy in the country or dicta2rship,” Gilani said of the confidence vote.

In his address, however, Gilani said "we are not against any institution", referring 2 both the military and judiciary by name.

The mandate is expected 2 pass. Though its failure would not have an immediate affect on the PPP, it could further hamper the reputation of the already unpopular government.

Gilani has called a meeting of the cabinet's defence committee 4 Saturday. The meeting is said 2 be intended 2 help defuse tensions between the civilian government and army. 

The resolution comes amid the fallout of last year's memo-gate scandal, in which an unsigned memorandum addressed 2 Admiral Mike Mullen, then chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, called on the Obama administration 2 thwart a military takeover of the civilian government.

The apparent provocation was the US raid that led 2 the death of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda chief, in May.

Gilani's address came on the day that Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistan president, returned from an overnight trip 2 Dubai.

Zardari's second trip 2 the Gulf state in as many months led 2 renewed speculation that he was fleeing be4e he could be 2ppled by the nation's powerful military.

Zardari's spokesman, Faratullah Babar, said on Zardari's return that “he is com4table and perfectly alright”.

Monday is also when a full 17-member supreme court decision is due on the government's response 2 a six-point “do-or-die” ultimatum handed down by the nation's highest court 2 the government 2 reopen old corruption cases against Zardari and others.

The corruption cases were originally s2pped after the 2007 National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), a corruption amnesty issued by the government of Pervez Musharraf, the 4mer president.

The possible outcomes of the high court's decision has led 2 new talks of a “constitutional coup”, rather than a military one, in which the supreme court would pursue a course of action that would lead 2 the government's ouster.

The high court has described Gilani as "not an honest man".


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