No asking Gilani for a confidence vote: Zardari aide

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Rezaul H Laskar

Islamabad, Jan 3 (PTI) A close aide of President AsifAli Zardari has ruled out the possibility of Prime MinisterYousuf Raza Gilani being asked to seek a vote of confidence inthe wake of the Pakistan People''s Party-led coalition beingreduced to a minority in parliament.

Law Minister Babar Awan, a confidant of Zardari, saidthere was no possibility of the President asking the PrimeMinister to seek a vote of confidence from the 342-memberNational Assembly or lower house of parliament.

The government was plunged into crisis yesterday afterthe Muttahida Qaumi Movement, the second largest party in theruling coalition, decided to withdraw support to the PPP.

The MQM, with its 25 lawmakers, played a key role inpropping up the government, which is at least 12 seats shortof a majority.

Law Minister Awan told The News daily: "First, thereis no question that the President would ask the Prime Ministerto obtain a fresh vote of confidence".

"Second, if the government is defeated in the NationalAssembly on the passage of the finance bill, then the PrimeMinister needs to seek a fresh vote of confidence.

"And at the present moment, there is no finance billbefore the National Assembly. Third, there is no one else toask the Prime Minister to obtain a fresh vote of confidence".

Awan contended that a replay of the contentiouspolitics of the 1990s would lead to a "doomsday scenario" forPakistan and democracy.

Meanwhile, the presidency and the government arehoping that no political party will introduce a no-confidencemotion against the Prime Minister in the National Assembly.

The presidency is confident that the grievances ofdisgruntled coalition partners MQM and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islamwill be addressed and they will soon review their decision tosit on opposition benches, PPP leaders told the Dawnnewspaper.

"We are hopeful that political parties will act withmaturity because the PPP has already assured them that theirconcerns will be addressed," said presidential spokesmanFarhatullah Babar.

The government and the President have urged the MQM toreview its decision to sit in the opposition benches, Babarsaid.

There have been contacts between the MQM and the PPPafter the former''s decision to part ways with the coalition atthe centre, he said.

Babar tried to dispel the perception that any partywould table a no-confidence motion against the Prime Ministeror oppose any resolution or decision to be taken by parliamentfor the betterment of the country and democracy.

"The JUI had decided to sit on the opposition benchesbut it voted in support of the 19th Amendment in the Senate onSaturday," he said.

Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said thegovernment would continue to hold dialogue with the annoyedcoalition partners and hoped that they would rejoin thegovernment soon.

"We will take care of all concerns of the MQM," hesaid.

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