‘Govt strategy on Zardari graft cases after SC ruling`

If Gilani is convicted he could be sentenced to jail for six months and disqualified from holding public office for five years.

Lahore: The Pakistan government will forge
its strategy on the Supreme Court`s order for reopening graft
cases against President Asif Ali Zardari after it gives
its ruling in contempt proceedings against Prime Minister
Yousuf Raza Gilani on Monday, a top minister said on Friday.

The ruling Pakistan People?s Party (PPP) will decide
its political strategy and other related matters after the
apex court`s order on February 13, Commerce Minister Makhdoom
Amin Fahim told journalists after inaugurating The India Show,
a trade exhibition.

In a democratic system, political decisions are not taken
in haste and every matter is considered and discussed
thoroughly, he said.

"The President has immunity under the Constitution of
Pakistan," he said in response to a query.

The apex court yesterday rejected Gilani’s appeal against
an order summoning him on February 13 for the framing of
contempt of court charges for refusing to revive cases of
alleged money laundering against Zardari in Switzerland.

If Gilani is convicted he could be sentenced to jail for
six months and disqualified from holding public office for
five years.

The court has been pressuring the government to reopen
the cases since December 2009, when it struck down a graft
amnesty issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.
The government has refused to reopen the cases, saying
the President enjoys complete immunity from prosecution
within Pakistan and abroad.

Fahim said the PPP-led parliament would complete its
constitutional term and general elections would be held as

He said there were reports that the government and
opposition would jointly decide about putting in place a
caretaker set-up before the next polls.

In response to another question, Fahim said the Supreme
Court-appointed judicial commission investigating the memo
scandal was deciding matters independently.

If the statement of American businessman Mansoor
Ijaz, the main accuser in the scandal, is so important, then
he should come to Pakistan to depose before the commission,
the Pakistani Commerce Minister said.

Replying to another query, Fahim said that though India
had granted Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to Pakistan in
1995, it was yet to be practically implemented because
Pakistani traders were not being issued visas.

"We need to discuss the negative list as well and every
matter will be reviewed and considered carefully," he said.

Issues such as differences over the sharing of river
waters too were unresolved, he said.

Pakistan and India were "positively discussing every
issue minutely" and both were "progressing gradually on
matters of mutual interests", he added.

Fahim said that during his visit to India last year,
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had assured him that New Delhi
would remove Islamabad`s reservations on the waters issue by
following laid down principles.