Yousaf Raza Gilani, Yousaf also spelled Yusuf, Gilani also spelled Gillani (born June 9, 1952, Karachi, Pakistan), a politician became Prime Minister of Pakistan in 2008.
Gilani was born into a prominent family of landowners from the Punjab province, many of whom were involved in politics, including his father, who was a provincial minister during the 1950s. After studying at the University of Punjab (M.A., 1976), Gilani joined the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) in 1978. In 1985 he was elected to the federal parliament. He received an appointment in the cabinet of Prime Minister Mohammad Khan Junejo, but a conflict with Junejo led to Gilani’s being replaced in 1986 and in his eventual marginalization within the PML.
Gilani joined the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) after Pres. Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq dismissed Junejo’s government in 1988. The PPP returned to power under Benazir Bhutto following Zia’s death in a plane crash later that year. Gilani served as speaker of the National Assembly (1993–97) during Bhutto’s second term as prime minister. Bhutto was removed as prime minister in 1996, and in elections the following year Gilani lost his seat in parliament while the PPP suffered a decisive defeat nationally. He remained a senior member of the PPP. Gilani was arrested in 2001 on charges of having granted illegal government appointments while he was speaker, and he served more than four years in prison, though he maintained his innocence.
In October 2007 Bhutto returned to Pakistan from self-imposed exile to lead the PPP in general elections called for early 2008. In December 2007, however, she was assassinated. Following her death, Bhutto’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari, became head of the PPP, which managed to win the most seats in elections held in February 2008. Gilani won a seat from the Multan district. The PPP subsequently negotiated a coalition agreement with Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz. With Zardari ineligible to become prime minister, because he had not been elected to the parliament, in March the PPP selected Gilani to become prime minister. Zardari won the presidential election in September 2008.
In February 2012 the Supreme Court charged Gilani with contempt for failing to reactivate a money-laundering investigation against Zardari after a 2009 Supreme Court decision had overturned an amnesty protecting politicians accused of corruption. Gilani, who insisted that the charges were politically motivated, was convicted in April 2012; however, he was sentenced to only a few minutes of confinement.
While serving his prison sentence in the early 2000s, Gilani wrote Cāh-i Yūsuf se ṣadā (2006; “Reflections from Yusuf’s Well”), a memoir and commentary on Pakistani political history.
Family and education
Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani was born on 9 June 1952 in Karachi, Sindh Province, West-Pakistan. Gillani moved to Multan, Punjab Province, attending the Forman Christian College University. He attended Government College University and obtained his B.A. in Journalism in 1970, and followed by a M.A. in Political Journalism from the University of the Punjab in 1976.
Gillani is married to Fauzia Gillani, together they have four sons and one daughter, and one grandson. His eldest son, Abdul Qadir Gillani, started his own political career from Multan, and in 2008 he married the granddaughter of Pir Pagara Shah Mardan Shah II, an influential political and religious leader of Sindh. Abdul Qadir is alleged to have been involved in a corruption case over arrangements for pilgrims to Mecca and in a scandal at a state-owned insurance company. Gillani’s three other sons Ali Qasim Gillani, Ali Musa Gillani and Ali Haider Gillani are triplets. Qasim Gillani is currently doing his undergraduate studies at Brunel University of London. Musa Gillani completed his Masters at Queen Mary University of London in 2009 and was an MNA in his father’s cabinet. Ali Haider Gillani is studying at School of Economics in Lahore. Ali Musa Gillani after completing his studies is now actively participating in politics. Ali Musa was questioned by the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) agents over a scandal involving the production of the drug Ecstasy. Yousaf Raza Gillani’s daughter is Fiza Gillani.
On 22 March 2008, the PPP nominated Gillani for the post of Prime Minister. The PPP completed consultations with coalition partners about the Prime Minister and its allies endorsed the nomination. The formal announcement of the name of Prime Minister was expected to be made that night.
On 22 March at 9:38 pm Islamabad, (1638 GMT), he was officially announced by the PPP as its candidate for the premiership of the country. Many analysts said that they would not be surprised if Zardari succeeded Gillani after a few months. It was reported on 24 March 2008, that Zardari said he was not interested in the job of Prime Minister and that Gillani would serve until 2013 in the position. Speculation that Zardari might be gunning for the premiership grew stronger when he picked the less popular Gillani over Ameen Faheem, President of the PPP. Fahmida Mirza, the newly elected Speaker of the Assembly, insisted there was no plan to replace Gillani. She added, however, that if Gillani did not do a good job, all options were open.
On 24 March 2008, Gillani was elected Prime Minister by Parliament, defeating his rival, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi of the PML-Q, by a score of 264 to 42. He was sworn in by Musharraf on the next day. On 29 March, he won a unanimous vote of confidence in Parliament.
On the same day, following the vote of confidence, Gillani announced his programme for the first 100 days of his administration. Some of the points he announced were:
Memo Gate Scandal and subsequent conflicts
On 10 October 2011, US-based businessman Mansoor Ijaz wrote in an opinion piece in The Financial Times that he acted as an intermediary between the Pakistani Government and US administration, with the former requesting the help of the latter to avert a military coup in wake of the unilateral US raid that killed Osama bin Laden. He said that a senior Pakistani diplomat telephoned him with an urgent request early on 9 May, exactly a week after the raid against bin Laden.
Though the Pakistani Government subsequently rejected his claims, it triggered a storm in the country’s political circles, especially between the civil government and the military. A judicial commission was subsequently appointed to investigate the matter.
Meanwhile, Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s request to the apex court for an independent probe into the matter was accepted. The court rejected the government’s contention that the issue should be investigated by a parliamentary panel.
Tensions between the government and the military reached a peak after Gillani said the army and intelligence chiefs had acted in an “unconstitutional and illegal” manner by filing affidavits on the memo issue in the Supreme Court without getting the government’s approval. The military reacted within days through a strongly worded statement that said the premier’s remarks could have “grievous consequences”.
Gillani retaliated by sacking Defence Secretary Lt Gen (retired) Khalid Naeem Lodhi, a confidant of Kayani. He reiterated that the Defence Secretary was removed in accordance with the law as he had made a mistake by not following the government’s rules. He maintained that he was only answerable to the Parliament.
On 29 March 2012, a civilian resident of Johar Town Lahore, Tariq Ahmed, filed a court petition in the Lahore High Court, seeking to hear the case of disqualification of Yousaf Raza Gillani. The plea was filed in the High Court in which the petitioner took the stance that “Fauzia Gillani— spouse of Prime minister Gilani received loans of millions of rupees from the Agriculture Development Bank Ltd (ADB) and the National Bank of Pakistan for the two mega-corporation owned by the Gillani family of which Fauzia Gillani served both megacorporation’s executive director. None of the loans of millions of rupees were paid back to the banks.
The Constitution of Pakistan’s Article 63(1)(q) and Article 63(1)(F) states that “if a person even his or/her, spouse is defaulter of bank loan then he or/she is disqualified to be elected as Member of Parliament (MP). Petitioner pointed out that apart from that in the Statement of Assets and Liabilities (SAL) as of 2007 investment in shares by her spouse, ownership of inherited assets and house in in the Defence Housing Authority, Lahore (DHA Lahore), have not been declared in their SAL submission list given to the Election Commission of Pakistan. The court after hearing the petitioner has asked the Deputy Attorney General to assist the Court on next hearing date April 4, 2012.
The disqualification petition was put to rest by the ruling of the Speaker of the National Assembly Dr. Fehmida Mirza, that the petition does not hold ground.
On June 19, 2012, Supreme Court (SC) has disqualified Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani in its short order of the NA Speaker ruling case.
Conviction on charges of Contempt of Court
On 26 April 2012, Gillani was convicted on the charges of Contempt of Court, becoming Pakistan’s first Prime Minister to be convicted while holding office. He was sentenced to be held in custody till the rising of court, a symbolic sentence lasting 30 seconds. The verdict was a short order and the full verdict of the court (over 70 pages) had been reserved, and was handed over after few days’ time. Gillani’s lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan announced that the Prime Minister shall file an appeal against the Supreme Court’s verdict once the full verdict is handed over, despite opposition parties urgings. Meanwhile, a defiant Yousuf Raza Gilani refused to step down.
On 28 May 2012, the issue of the disqualification of the Prime Minister was put to rest after a ruling by Speaker of the National Assembly dr. Fehmida Mirza, to not to send the disqualification reference to the Election Commission of Pakistan.
Subsequently the Prime Minister and his legal team decided not to file a petition against the conviction. The Prime Minister still maintains that he acted to defend the Constitution of Pakistan, which according to the Supreme Court amounted to contempt of court.
On 24 May 2012, the ruling party directed the case to speaker of the National Assembly to review the case of Gillani, in light of the apex court’s verdict. The speaker ruled out that, despite being convict, Gillani cannot be disqualified provisions of paragraph Article 63(g) or either Article 63(h) of the Constitution. The speaker also decided not to forwarded the reference against Gillani’s disqualification to Election Commission. On 29 May, Gillani appeared in media and vigorously speaker’s decision and cited: “..(…) The National Assembly Speaker Dr. Fehmida Mirza’s ruling pertaining to the disqualification reference was final and could not be challenged…()…”. Disqualification and ouster
After Speaker’s ruling made public, the major opposition party in the parliament, the Pakistan Muslim League, and the non-elected party, the Pakistan Movement for Justice (PTI), filed two separate petition in the supreme court, challenging the National Assembly speaker Dr. Fehmida Mirza’s ruling to save Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani from disqualification. The petitioners pointed out that Article 184(3) of the Constitution stands to “disqualified in light of the apex court’s verdict and that he should be barred from performing further duties as the prime minister.”.
On June 6, 2012, the Supreme Court admitted the petitions and a three-member bench was formed to be headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry to hear the petitions. After hearing petitions by both sides, the notices were sent to prime minister, speaker of the national assembly, and other concerned offices to the case. The hearing of the petitions was subsequently adjourned to June 14, 2012. On June 15, Gillani’s lawyer senator Aitzaz Ahsan defended speaker’s move, and argued that “the office of speaker was no more “a post office” after the Eighteenth Amendment as it had been drastically changed; the speaker had used her “quasi judicial powers” and gave her ruling over the issue with due application of her mind…(…)…”. Ahsan maintained that the prime minister had accepted the conviction but not disqualification. On June 17, Ahsan concluded that speaker’s ruling was in accordance with parliamentary ethics and reiterated that the ruling in the contempt of court case did not refer to a disqualification of the prime minister. Mirza also submitted the written statement in which, she maintained that the court’s ruling did not order that a reference on the issue should directly be sent to the Election Commission, and has had the constitutional authority to decide over the disqualification of a member of the assembly. Her written statement was discarded by the supreme court, and reserved the final decision of Gillani’s qualification matter. At the end of the proceedings, the chief justice marked that the petitions had stated that a “convicted person” was representing the people; the prime minister represented the public and not a party. Minutes before adjourning the court, the chief justice quoted: “The fate of the people was in the hands of a man who had been convicted by the Supreme Court… (…)..”.
Finally on 19 June 2012, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ousted and further disqualified Prime Minister Gillani citing the earlier conviction on April 26, 2012. The Supreme Court in its standing orders, said that the “Gillani was ineligible to hold the Prime Minister’s office after April 26th conviction” and all orders given by him till date would stand null and void. Consequently, the Election Commission issued the government notification with regards to the disqualification of Gillani. The country’s election commission noted that, accepting the rulings of Supreme Court, Gillani was disqualified as a member of parliament with effect immediately from April 26, 2012.
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