News / Asia

Pakistani PM Appears Before Supreme Court

Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari speaks to journalists  (2011 File)
Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari speaks to journalists (2011 File)
TEXT SIZE - +
Ayaz Gul

Pakistan’s beleaguered prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, has made a rare appearance before the country's supreme court, amid increased tensions between his government and the country’s fiercely independent judiciary.

Gilani appeared before the supreme court in a bid to avoid being held in contempt for his failure to pursue corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

Thursday's preliminary proceedings took place amid tight security in and around the court building and were mainly aimed at allowing the prime minister to explain his position.

Gilani told the court his government was unable to initiate legal proceedings against the president because he has immunity while in office.

Afterward, his attorney, Aitzaz Ahsan, told reporters that the prime minister’s presence demonstrates the government holds the judiciary in high honors.

“He [Gilani] has accepted the majesty of the law and the majesty of the supreme court,” said Ahsan.

The supreme court will reconvene early next month, but agreed that the prime minister would not have to appear again in person.

Politically motivated

The corruption cases against Zardari date back to the 1990s when his slain wife Benazir Bhutto was prime minister of Pakistan. Some of the cases were instituted in Switzerland. But Zardari and his wife insisted the cases were false and politically motivated.

A controversial amnesty deal that protected President Zardari and thousands others from prosecution was canceled by the supreme court two years ago. The government was also ordered to revive all the cases and write a letter to Swiss authorities to reopen the legal proceedings there.

Legal analysts like former Pakistani law minister Syed Mohammad Zafar believe it is for the supreme court to determine whether the prime minister’s argument claiming immunity for Zardari holds.

“The supreme court will see whether the reiteration has any validity or not," said Zafar. "And, if it finds that it has no validity it may proceed to announce an order of the contempt.”

Possible sentence

If convicted on contempt charges, the Pakistani prime minister could face up to six months in prison and be disqualified from holding political office. That could destabilize the government and push President Zardari into deeper political trouble.

The legal troubles for Pakistan’s embattled coalition government come amid growing tensions with the country’s powerful military. That conflict stems from an alleged presidential memo seeking Washington’s help in removing the current military leadership.

The political tensions also come at a time when the country’s ties with the United States are at their lowest since the November cross-border NATO air attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

You May Like

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Open Source Seeds Hit the Market, Raise Awareness

First open source seeds include 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid