In a first, Pak PM charged with contempt

Feb 14, 2012, 09:04 IST | Agencies
Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani was charged with contempt by Supreme Court for failing to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari

Yousuf Raza Gilani was yesterday indicted by the Supreme Court in a contempt of court case for refusing to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari, making it a first for any prime minister in Pakistan.

Refusing to yield: Pakistan PM Yousuf Gilani heard the charges and
pledged to contest them. pic/afp

The prime minister waved before entering the court where head of the seven-member bench of the apex court, Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk, read out the charge sheet in Gilani's presence.

"This is the charge that you Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani as the prime minister of Pakistan have wilfully flouted, disregarded and disobeyed the instructions given by this court," he said. Gilani faces prison and being barred from office if he is found guilty in a case that will start at the end of the month.

He has argued that President Asif Ali Zardari has immunity as head of state, preventing the prime minister from writing to Swiss authorities where Zardari is accused of laundering millions of dollars in kickbacks from the time his wife, Benazir Bhutto, was prime minister in the 1990s.

Crisis ahead
Helicopters hovered overhead and armed police guarded the courthouse as Gilani arrived.

He spoke only to confirm that he understood the charge against him and to plead not guilty.

The case will resume on February 28 once both sides have submitted evidence.

In an interview on Sunday, Gilani said the attempt to reopen corruption cases was designed to bring down the government.

"Whatever the charges that were levelled against him, he fought those cases in the court, he was exonerated. There had been lot of cases against him and they were all politically motivated," he said.

Yesterday's court appearance is the latest round in a war of attrition between government and judiciary, which many people believe is siding with the military against an embattled civilian leadership.

It means once again the government is focused on its own survival rather than tackling the myriad challenges facing the country.

Imran Khan asks Gilani to resign
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan said that there was no moral justification left for Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani to hold his office any longer. The PTI chief asked Gilani to tender his resignation after being convicted by the Supreme Court in contempt of court case instead of pressurising the judiciary.

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