Gone in 30 seconds

In fresh trouble for Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, the Supreme Court yesterday convicted him for contempt of court for refusing to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari, prompting the opposition to demand his ouster.

Gilani (59), who is the first Pakistan prime minister to be held guilty for contempt, was given just a symbolic sentence of about 30 seconds but could have been jailed for six months.

His government has come under increasing strain ever since Osama bin Laden was gunned down in Abbottabad last year. Its ties with the US also worsened following a NATO attack that left two dozen Pakistani soldiers dead in November last year.

The SC order said “the contempt committed by him is substantially detrimental to the administration of justice and tends to bring this Court and the judiciary of this country into ridicule.”

The judgment was not proper, complained Gilani, after the apex court held him guilty of contempt for refusing to write to Swiss authorities to reopen a corruption case against Zardari.
Gilani, handpicked by Zardari as the Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) prime minister in March 2008, said that he asked for justice and hoped that legal formalities would be met.

The opposition call for Gilani’s ouster grew stronger immediately after the court’s ruling.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif said Gilani should make way for a new elected prime minister. “In light of the verdict, I think PM Gilani should resign immediately rather than prolong the issue,” he was quoted as saying.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader and former cricketer Imran Khan too said that Gilani should immediately resign.

Imran wrote on Twitter: “After SC judgement PM has lost whatever shred of legal & moral authority he had. He must resign immediately.”

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