Islamabad: Buoyed by the ruling Pakistan People's Party's strong performance in elections to the upper house of parliament, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Saturday dismissed speculation about an early general election and the installation of a caretaker regime.

"Now there will be no caretaker or chair-taker. The Prime Minister will not go up, inside or outside. He will stay right here," Gilani told reporters on the sidelines of an official function in his hometown of Multan, a day after the PPP emerged as the single largest party in the Senate.

The premier was responding to a question about the possibility of an early general election.

There has been rampant speculation that the beleaguered government would have to call an early election in the face of challenges from the judiciary and the military.

However, the PPP gained some breathing space by winning 19 of the 54 Senate seats for which polls were held on Friday.

Gilani noted that several predictions made in the past about the fall of his government had been proved wrong.

The government held the Senate elections on time and will present its fifth budget in May, he said.

A decision on the next general election will be made in consultations with the PPP's allies, he added.

The country's institutions are being strengthened and there would be no problems if they worked within their constitutional ambit, he said.
   
"We will not impose any restrictions on the media... We want the parliament and the judiciary to be strong. We want the media to be strong.

"We want all the institutions to work while remaining within their constitutional limits. Then there will be no problems in the country," Gilani said.

Asked about US pressure to get Pakistan to abandon its plans to build a pipeline to bring in gas from Iran, Gilani said Pakistan is a sovereign country and will make all decisions in its own interest.

"We have bilateral relations with Iran and we will work in the interests of our country. We will not take pressure from anyone," he said.

Gilani noted that there were "ups and downs in our relations with America".

He said, "Sometimes they (relations) are good and sometimes they are bad".

The government will give relief to the people in the next budget.

"This is the only political government in the history of Pakistan which will present its fifth budget in May, in which relief will be given to the people," he said.

(Agencies)