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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid