Islamabad: Pakistan government on Saturday accused a Supreme Court official of "dictating terms" for complying with an order on Yousuf Raza Gilani`s conviction for contempt and made it clear that the National Assembly Speaker alone could decide on the Premier`s disqualification.
Law Minister Farooq Naek said Assistant Registrar Nasir Iqbal of the Supreme Court had written a letter to the Speaker of the lower house of Parliament, the Cabinet Secretary and the Chief Election Commissioner for taking action on the court`s order of April 26 on Gilani`s conviction.
The Supreme Court official`s letter called for "further necessary action" by the Speaker, Cabinet Secretary and the Chief Election Commissioner even though the court`s short order contained no directions, Naek contended.
The Assistant Registrar was "dictating terms for compliance" and "arrogating powers which he does not have," Naek said at a joint news conference with Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira.
Naek asked the Supreme Court to conduct an inquiry against the Assistant Registrar for "ridiculing Parliament" and to take action against him.
"A motion for breach of privilege will be moved in the National Assembly against this official," he said.
Besides, Naek pointed out, the Premier had 30 days to appeal his conviction. "What is the rush? The Prime Minister has not exhausted all the avenues that are available to him."
The Law Minister contended that Gilani continued to be the Prime Minister and that the Cabinet was still functioning despite the conviction.
The apex court convicted Gilani for contempt for refusing to act on orders to reopen graft cases in Switzerland against President Asif Ali Zardari and gave him a symbolic sentence of less than a minute.
However, the Supreme Court`s short order left the door
open for the possible disqualification of the Premier.
Gilani yesterday said the Speaker alone could decide on his disqualification.
He dared the opposition to move a vote of no-confidence against him in Parliament.
Law Minister Naek further clarified that an appeal against the apex court`s verdict could be filed only after the government received a copy of the court`s detailed order.
"The trial ends only when the appeal is decided," he said.
Referring to Speaker Fehmida Mirza`s role in the matter, Naek said rulings issued by superior courts made it clear that she could not act as a mere "post office" to convey the matter of the Premier`s possible disqualification to the Election Commission.
"She has to exercise her mind according to the orders of the superior courts. If the Speaker decides there is no case (against Gilani), then the matter will not go to the Election Commission," Naek said.
Kaira ridiculed the main opposition PML-N and its chief, former premier Nawaz Sharif, for demanding Gilani`s resignation.
He said that Sharif`s men had "attacked" the Supreme Court in 1997 and prevented it from giving a judgement against him.
"Sharif is now trying to influence the Supreme Court. His tone and tenor are aimed at pressuring the court," Kaira said.
The remarks by the two ministers reflected the decision by the ruling Pakistan People`s Party to rally behind Gilani in order to ensure that he remains in the post of Premier.
PPP insiders said the party has no plans to back down in the ongoing standoff with the judiciary.