Pakistan president cancels Russia visit
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday cancelled a visit to Russia in a bid to contain a domestic crisis sparked by the Supreme Court disqualifying his prime minister, a spokesman said.
Zardari was due to attend the June 20-22 St Petersburg International Economic Forum but would now hold talks with coalition partners “to consider the situation (at home) and formulate a course of action,” his spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.
The president held emergency talks with leaders in his main ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and summoned coalition parties to meet later Tuesday to decide how to respond, officials said.
Senior PPP members appealed for calm as isolated protests were held around the country, in a sign that the party was perhaps most likely to decide on electing an alternative prime minister rather than contesting the court ruling.
“Though we have reservations about this judgement, we will take advice from the allied parties and legal experts and will then chalk out a strategy for the future,” Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira told reporters.
“The central executive committee has advised all party workers to remain calm and show patience and not to protest against the verdict,” he added.
Asked whether the PPP was considering a presidential pardon for Gilani, the information minister said “no such suggestion is under consideration”.
PPP secretary general Jehangir Bader said the party executive committee had given Zardari “complete authority… to take any decisions after taking advice from the allied parties”.