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Pakistani PM Files Appeal in Contempt Case

Pakistan's Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani waves towards the media after arriving at the Supreme Court in Islamabad, January 19, 2012.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has filed an appeal against a Supreme Court summons calling for him to appear in court to face charges of contempt.

The contempt proceedings against Gilani stem from an earlier Supreme Court ruling that ordered the prime minister to reopen old corruption cases against thousands of people, including President Asif Ali Zardari.

Last week, the Supreme Court ordered Gilani to appear before the court on February 13 to face charges.

The prime minister's lawyer, Aitzaz Ahsan, says the appeal filed Wednesday includes arguments for why the contempt charges are unjustified.

The Supreme Court says a panel of eight judges will hear the prime minister's appeal on Thursday. If convicted, Prime Minister Gilani could lose his job and go to jail.

The corruption charges against President Zardari and other Pakistani officials dating back to the 1990s were dropped under a controversial 2007 amnesty agreement. But the Pakistani Supreme Court threw out the amnesty, commonly referred to as the National Reconciliation Ordinance, in 2009 and ordered the government to reopen the cases.

Prime Minister Gilani has refused to implement the decision, saying the country’s constitution does not allow him to initiate any legal proceedings against Zardari as long as he is president of the country.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.