News / Asia

Pakistan Political Crisis Deepens As Court Indicts PM

Pakistan's Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani waves after arriving at the Supreme Court in Islamabad February 13, 2012.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani waves after arriving at the Supreme Court in Islamabad February 13, 2012.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court has charged Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani with contempt for defying its order to reopen old corruption cases against his party chief, President Asif Ali Zardari. If convicted, the beleaguered prime minister could face six months in jail and lose his job.

Court proceedings begin

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani complied with Supreme Court orders Monday to be present in the crowded Islamabad courtroom where a seven-member panel of judges charged him with contempt.

The proceedings mark the formal beginning of the high-profile trial, making Gilani Pakistan’s first chief executive ever to be indicted while in office.

The contempt charges stem from an earlier court ruling that ordered the prime minister to reopen old graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari, including those instituted in foreign countries, particularly in Switzerland.

But Gilani has consistently refused to do so, insisting the country’s constitution does not allow him to initiate any legal proceedings against Zardari as long as he is the president of Pakistan.

Contempt charges announced

The lead judge, Nasir ul-Mulk, while reading out the contempt charges to the Pakistani prime minister, stated that Gilani has “willfully flouted, disregarded and disobeyed” the order by the Supreme Court.

The prime minister told the judges he understood the charges and pledged to contest them. Commentators say the trial is likely to escalate the political crisis brewing in Pakistan.

Legal experts like former law minister Senator Syed Mohammad Zafar say the prime minister’s decision to plead not guilty has left him with very few options. However, he says Gilani could still avoid conviction if at any stage during the contempt proceedings he apologizes and pledges to reopen corruption cases against President Zardari.

“But in that case, it shall be then the discretion of the court to accept his apology or not accept his apology. So the window is now very narrow for him to take any option," Zafar said. "He is now a prime minister under charge of contempt, which will certainly undermine his position. When he says he is going to contest, he is closing his options.”

Impending political shake up

Prime Minister Gilani has said he would be forced to step down if the Supreme Court convicted him, and he could face up to six months in jail as well.

Corruption cases against President Zardari and thousands of others date back to the 1990s but were thrown out in 2007 by a controversial amnesty law passed under the former military president Pervez Musharraf.

The Supreme Court outlawed the amnesty in late 2009 and ordered Gilani’s coalition government to revive all the court cases within Pakistan and to write letter to Swiss authorities to do the same in their country, where Zadari is suspected of having laundered millions of dollars. Zardari has denied the allegations.

You May Like

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Works to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Smithsonian senior research botanist Vicki Funk says ultimate goal is 'trying to get one-half of the diversity of plant life on Earth at the genus level in two years' More

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

Report from member of British think tank says Russian extradition requests keep targets from traveling More

US Lawmakers Weigh Turkish Anti-terror Moves

Turkey’s two-pronged campaign against Islamic State militants, Kurdish PKK forces provokes mixed reactions on Capitol Hill More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs