Pak PM Gilani offers to resign

Hours after the Supreme Court issued a contempt notice against Yousuf Raza Gilani, he said he was willing to abdicate power to save democratic system and parliament

Pakistan slipped into further uncertainty yesterday as Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani offered to resign after the Supreme Court issued him a contempt notice for not implementing a directive to act against President Asif Ali Zardari on corruption.

Escalating crisis: Pakistan's top court deemed beleagured PMYousuf
Raza Gilani in contempt for failing to re-open corruption cases against
President Zardari, exacerbating a situation likely to force early elections.

Gilani was directed to appear personally before the bench on January 19.

Zardari, accused of graft, had been granted amnesty by the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), which was issued in 2007 by then president Pervez Musharraf to facilitate the return of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and her husband Zardari.

The NRO was struck down as void by the Supreme Court in 2009.

Gilani offered to resign to save democratic system and parliament, according to reports.

The prime minister made the offer after a meeting with Zardari. Both leaders discussed the current political situation in the country.

Partners of Pakistan's ruling coalition also met and decided that Gilani would appear before the Supreme Court on Jan 19.

A seven-member Supreme Court bench had yesterday resumed hearing on the implementation of the NRO, under which the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had withdrawn cases against Zardari.

Law Minister Maula Bux Chandio was quoted as saying that the government would talk to lawyers regarding the court's notice and that the next step would be taken in accordance with the law and constitution.

Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq told the Supreme Court that he had not got any instructions from the government in response to six options put forward by the court in the case on January 10.

The options included taking action against the president for violating the constitution, initiating contempt proceedings against the chief executive and the law secretary for not implementing the NRO verdict, and making them ineligible from the membership of parliament.

The apex court had earlier warned the government of action if its ruling on the amnesty law, which granted immunity to politicians and bureaucrats in corruption cases, was not implemented by January 10, 2012.
The court had also sought reopening of cases closed under the NRO.

It had ordered the government to write a letter to the Swiss authorities to reopen cases against the president and set a seven-day deadline.

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