Islamabad: Leaders of Pakistan`s ruling coalition have decided to maintain a distance from the controversy over payments allegedly made to Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry`s son by a real estate tycoon to influence cases in the Supreme Court.
The decision was made at a meeting last night of leaders of the Pakistan People`s Party-led coalition that was jointly chaired by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
"The meeting decided that no coalition party should get involved in the controversy," Haji Muhammad Adeel of the Awami National Party told the media after the meeting.
Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said the meeting "discussed and reviewed the latest developments that have taken place in the country during this week" but did not give details.
The leaders discussed their plan for the upcoming general election and the situation in the country, including the corruption scandal involving the Chief Justice`s son Arsalan Iftikhar, the Dawn newspaper quoted its sources as saying.
Zardari asked the coalition leaders not to issue statements on the matter, the sources said.
"It is a matter between two individuals and why should we become a party to it?" Adeel said.
Asked about allegations that Zardari had a role in the charges levelled by real estate tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain, Adeel said: "Neither the President nor the Prime Minister has any link with the case and this has also been stated by (the tycoon) in his press conference on Tuesday."
Adeel acknowledged that the case involving the tycoon and the Chief Justice`s son would go on for "some time and would have multiple dimensions".
Hussain, the founder of the Bahria Town real estate firm, has said in a statement submitted to the apex court that his relatives made payments totalling Rs 342.5 million to the Chief Justice`s son.
The Chief Justice initiated suo motu proceedings against his son last week but subsequently recused himself from the case following criticism from legal experts and political parties.
The tycoon has also alleged that the Chief Justice was aware of the scam involving his son for six months but had taken no action.
Hussain further alleged that the Chief Justice`s son was running the judiciary like a "don".
PML-Q leaders Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Mushahid Hussain Syed, ANP leader Afrasiab Khattak and Muttahida Qaumi Movement leaders Haider Abbas Rizvi and Babar Khan Ghouri were among those who attended yesterday?s meeting of the ruling coalition.
The parties pledged to remain united and jointly contest the next general election, scheduled for early next year, under a seat adjustment arrangement.
President Zardari briefed the meeting on his recent visit to Beijing to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit and his talks with leaders of Iran, Afghanistan and China.
He said Pakistan had offered to host an international conference of SCO on the issue of narcotics. He further said he would soon visit Russia.