Pakistan PM in contempt of court

2012-01-16 17:45

Islamabad - Pakistan's top court on Monday deemed beleaguered Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in contempt for failing to re-open corruption cases, exacerbating a crisis likely to force early elections.

The Supreme Court summoned Gilani to appear on Thursday, escalating pressure on a weakened government at a time of crippling tensions with the army which some analysts believe could cost Gilani his job.

"The Supreme Court has issued a contempt of court notice to the prime minister for not complying with its orders," Judge Nasir-ul-Mulk told the court which met to debate how to proceed on graft charges against the president.

"He has been directed to appear personally on January 19."

The Supreme Court wants the government to write to Swiss authorities demanding that they re-open corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari after a previous amnesty expired in late 2009.

Zardari and his Pakistan People's Party (PPP) leadership have refused to do so, saying the president is immune from prosecution as head of state.

"We will consult legal experts and take steps which they consider necessary under law," minister for law and parliamentary affairs Maula Bakhsh Chandio told reporters after the court order.

In the past, PPP stalwarts have accused the judiciary of over-stepping its reach and colluding with the army to bring down the administration before its five-year mandate ends in 2013.

Last year, a Swiss prosecutor said that it would be "impossible" to reopen a case against Zardari since he benefits from immunity as a head of state.

Show cause notice

Supreme Court judges have outlined six options on how to proceed on graft charges against Zardari - which include finding Gilani in contempt, disqualifying the prime minister and president, and holding early elections.

Mulk said he had been left with "no option" but issue a show cause notice to Gilani after the government ignored the court's demands.

It marks only the second time that contempt of court procedures have been initiated against a sitting prime minister in Pakistan.

In November 1997, prime minister Nawaz Sharif was also found in contempt in a case which ultimately led to the resignation of president Farooq Leghari.

Although the prime minister has little choice but appear on Thursday, analysts are divided on whether he could be convicted, pushed out to protect Zardari or show flexibility in order to avert a wider crisis.

"There is possibility now that the prime minister will be made a scapegoat and he may resign," senior lawyer Quosen Mufti told AFP.

"Another possibility is that the prime minister will appear before the court... If he gives the court a commitment on implementation the court can discharge the contempt notice. If not then he may be convicted," Mutfi added.

The prime minister is likely to seek solace in a confidence vote in the civilian leadership in the lower house of parliament on Monday.

Coup by proxy

Zardari is also under pressure over a memo soliciting American help to prevent a coup apparently feared in the aftermath of Osama bin Laden's killing in Pakistan on May 2 and to clip the power of the army.

Zardari's close aide, Husain Haqqani, has been forced to resign as ambassador to Washington and the Supreme Court on December 30 ordered a judicial inquiry into a memo following a demand from the chief spymaster.

The army has carried out three coups in Pakistan, but analysts believe it has no appetite for another direct takeover, instead preferring to force early elections behind the scenes in concert with pressure from the courts.

The commission probing "memogate" is expected to determine this month whether Islamabad endorsed the note submitted to a then top US military officer.

The attorney general said on Monday he had been unable to obtain crucial evidence - Blackberry message data sent between Haqqani and businessperson Mansoor Ijaz, who claims to have acted as a go-between on the memo.

He said Blackberry's makers refused to release such records without the customer's permission.

Ijaz, who has American nationality, has not visited Pakistan since revealing the existence of the memo in the Financial Times in October.

His lawyer, Akram Sheikh, said Ijaz feared for his life but would apply for a visa in Switzerland, indicating that he could testify by January 25.

Read more on:    yousuf raza gilani  |  asif ali zardari  |  pakistan
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Movies
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Wednesday Montague Gardens - 19:58 PM
    Road name: Montague Drive
    ROADWORKS - lane closures both directions for BRT lane construction - expect DELAYS
  • Wednesday Hout Bay - 18:19 PM
    Road name: Chapmans Peak Drive
    WEDNESDAYS - ROAD CLOSED between 10am and 3pm for Alien Vegetation Clearing - every Wednesday - weather permitting
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Torch 9810

The BlackBerry Torch 9810 gives you the powerful combination of...

From R2740.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It is always easier to look out and see what needs changing. Looking in is a lot harder... Today you may need to look at what...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.