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Obey order on Zardari or face contempt charges: Pak SC to PM

Pakistan's Supreme Court on Thursday firmly told embattled Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani that he had no option but to write to Swiss authorities to revive graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari as no one was above the law.

Hearing Gilani's appeal against an apex court order summoning him on February 13 for framing contempt charges over his failure to act on its directive to reopen corruption cases against Zardari, an eight-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry said the Prime Minister should have taken the initiative.

Yousuf Raza Gilani
In Troubled Waters: Pakistan's SC has insisted PM Yousuf Raza Gilani write to Swiss authorities to revive graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. Pic/AFP


The court said it had shown patience in the two years since it ordered the matter to be taken up with Switzerland. It said contempt proceedings against 59-year-old Gilani would automatically end if he wrote a letter to Swiss authorities to reopen graft cases against Zardari.

The apex court is expected to give its ruling on Gilani's 200-page appeal soon as the bench directed his lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan to complete his arguments by 10.30 am tomorrow.

The person involved in the graft cases is the head of the Prime Minister's party PPP but no one is above the law, Chaudhry said.

The 60 million dollars that were allegedly laundered will come back to Pakistan only if the letter is written to Swiss authorities, the bench said. Besides Switzerland, the government will have to approach other countries to revive graft cases, the Chief Justice indicated.

"The Prime Minister should not be the person to undermine any institution. This money will not come to our pockets. Actually it is the nation which wants this money," Chaudhry said.

The Supreme Court has been pressuring the government to revive the cases against Zardari in Switzerland since December 2009, when it struck down a graft amnesty issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

The government has refused to reopen the cases against Zardari, saying the President enjoys complete immunity from prosecution in criminal cases in Pakistan and abroad.

During today's proceedings, the Chief Justice insisted that Gilani should have taken the initiative to reopen the cases.

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