Islamabad:  A defiant Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Monday said there is no law under which Pakistan's judiciary can disqualify him, days after his conviction by the Supreme Court for contempt.
   
Gilani, the longest-ruling Pakistan Premier, said that he intended to continue as premier despite calls from opposition parties to resign, saying only the Speaker of the National Assembly or lower house of parliament could disqualify him.
 
"I have served as the Speaker, a member of parliament and a federal minister – there is no law under which the judiciary can disqualify a public representative," Gilani said while interacting with the media on the sidelines of an official function in Islamabad.

"I will accept the Speaker's decision, if she throws me out today I will return to the people," he said. Under Article 248 (1) of the Constitution, Gilani said, he was free, totally independent and had "complete immunity in the discharge of my duties".

Gilani questioned why the judiciary and the main opposition PML-N were in a rush to see him ousted from the post of premier. "Why are they in such a hurry that the right of appeal or even the full judgement is not given to me," he asked.

A seven-judge bench of the apex court convicted Gilani of contempt on April 26 and gave him a symbolic sentence of less than a minute for refusing to revive graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. The court has so far issued only a short order though some legal experts have contended that Gilani's conviction could lead to his disqualification as a parliamentarian.

The government has said the Speaker has 30 days to decide on any possible move to disqualify Gilani, following which the Election Commission will have a further 90 days to settle the matter. "Sangma, not as my father...but according to me he is very a able Parliamentarian. Whatever role he has been given, he has played it very well. So according to me, he is very able person and politician.

"The community he represents has never been represented as President--be it a tribal or christian communities," Agatha Sangma, who is the Minister of State for Rural Development, told reporters outside Parliament House. Referring to the "identity issues" of tribals and their support to the Naxal movement in some parts of the country, she said, "representing tribals is very important."

On Pranab Mukherjee becoming a cosensus choice for Presidentship, she said at present he has a very important role and "to get a Finance Minister of his kind is very difficult".  "Consensus is very important aspect in this election because nobody has enough numbers," she added.

(Agencies)