Pakistan`s President decides to avoid clash on court order

A court verdict bars Zardari from using Presidency for political activities.

Updated: May 20, 2011, 14:08 PM IST

Lahore: With the next general election less than two years away, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has decided to avoid any possible clash with the judiciary vis-à-vis the Lahore High Court`s verdict barring him from using the presidency for political activities.

"No political activity of the President in the presidency will be made public till a decision is made on filing an appeal in the apex court against the High Court`s verdict," an insider in the ruling Pakistan People`s Party said.

The High Court ruled on May 12 that the President should relinquish the position of co-chairman of the PPP and that the presidency should not be used for political activities.

The PPP insider said after the verdict, the President met party parliamentarians and legislators from Bahawalpur and Multan divisions but "officially no press release or confirmation from the presidency was made" in this regard.

"Although the High Court`s decision is not binding on the President, he thinks violation of its observations publicly will help his opponents make a big issue out of it," the insider said.

"President Zardari is of the view that since not much time is left for the next general election, it will not be wise to pitch his party against the judiciary," he said.

The President is likely to continue his political engagements "publicly" at Bilawal House, his private residence in Karachi.

PPP circles are hopeful that the Supreme Court will suspend the High Court`s verdict.

The party or the federal government can file the appeal within 60 days against the High Court`s ruling that several stalwarts have called an "anti-PPP verdict".

The PPP lawyers` wing is preparing the draft of the appeal to be filed in the Supreme Court.

Farhatullah Babar, the spokesman for the President, said the PPP secretary general had already announced that an appeal will be filed against the decision.

He said since the verdict, "no political activity has taken place in the presidency".

Responding to a question, he said he did not confirm that there would be no political activity in the presidency in the days to come.

"I cannot confirm that there will be any political activity in the presidency in the future but since the High Court`s verdict no such meetings have occurred," he said.

Babar further said: "The PPP and its leaders have always respected courts` verdicts in the past and will continue doing so".

Meanwhile, the Punjab chapter of the PPP has announced it will protest the High court`s decision. Soon after the verdict, the PPP restricted protests only to Sindh province, where it has a strong presence.