Gilani in for more trouble?

Gilani faces the possibility of another case being filed against him for alleged misuse of authority.

Last Updated: Jan 17, 2012, 23:09 PM IST

Islamabad: With two days left for Prime
Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to appear in person before the
Supreme Court to face contempt charges, hectic behind the door
efforts were on to defuse the political crisis gripping the
nation.

As the Prime Minister prepared for his appearance before
the court, he faced the possibility of another case being
filed against him for alleged misuse of authority.

Gilani told the National Assembly which gave its full
backing to the political leadership that he would appear
before the Supreme Court on Thursday to face the contempt
charges. The court yesterday asked him to appear in person
after he failed to implement its order to reopen graft charges
against Zardari.

The beleaguered government faced yet another embarrassment
Tuesday when the apex court suspended the licence of a lawyer
close to President Zardari.

Zardari in a bid to defuse the political crisis in the
wake of the government`s stand-off with the powerful military
following the memo scandal, held talks with Joint Chiefs of
Staff Chairman Gen Khalid Shameem Wynne last night.

The meeting is believed to be a follow-up of talks held
between Zardari and Army Chief Gen Asfaq Parvez Kayani over
the weekend, Dawn newspaper quoting a source reported.

A brief statement issued by the presidency said Zardari
and Wynne discussed professional matters pertaining to the
armed forces.

However, sources told the Dawn that the two leaders
focussed on finding a way out of the ongoing impasse.

Though there was no certainty about how the
civil-military talks were progressing, there were "hints that
some progress is being made", the report said.

The official said the meeting between the army chief and
the President was held "for lowering temperatures rather than
raising it".

The Supreme Court temporarily suspended the lawyer`s
licence of Babar Awan, a former law minister and the
President`s close aide, who is acting as the government`s
lawyer in several high-profile cases for failing to respond to
a contempt notice.

An 11-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice Iftikhar
Chaudhry suspended Awan`s licence when he appeared in court to
represent the government in a case for reviewing the death
sentence awarded to former premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

The bench said the action was being taken as Awan had
failed to respond to a contempt notice.

It further said Awan`s behaviour towards the apex
court had been "inappropriate".

Meanwhile, Pakistan`s main anti-corruption watchdog is
considering filing a case of alleged misuse of authority
against Gilani under which he could face a prison term of 14
years if convicted.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is contemplating
filing a case against Gilani in connection with the
appointment of Adnan Khwaja as chairman of the state-run Oil
and Gas Development Company even though Khwaja had already
been convicted by court.

NAB Chairman Fasih Bokhari told the News daily that
action will be taken in cases of alleged illegal appointments
made on the orders of the premier under the law and rules.

Former Establishment Secretary Ismail Qureshi, who was
recently arrested on graft charges and released on bail, has
reportedly told NAB investigators that Gilani and his
Principal Secretary Nargis Sethi were responsible for Khwaja`s
appointment.

NAB sources said Gilani had violated a section of the
NAB law that carries a jail term of up to 14 years.
Gilani and Khwaja were detained in jail together during
the previous regime of President Pervez Musharraf.

PTI