Parliament has authority to determine immunity to Prez: Gilani

In the mounting pressure from the SC for reopening of cases against President Asif Ali Zardari, Pak Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani has said Parliament has the authority to determine the immunity available to the head of state.

Updated: May 15, 2010, 16:13 PM IST

Islamabad: In the face of mounting pressure
from the Supreme Court for reopening of graft cases against
President Asif Ali Zardari in Switzerland, Pakistan Premier
Yousuf Raza Gilani has said Parliament has the authority to
determine the immunity available to the head of state.

The apex court yesterday summoned Law Minister Babar
Awan, a close aide of Zardari, to appear before it on May 25
to explain why the government had not implemented its verdict
scrapping a graft amnesty that benefited the President.

The court has been pressing the government to contact
Swiss authorities to reopen money laundering cases against
Zardari since it annulled the National Reconciliation
Ordinance (NRO), a graft amnesty promulgated by former
military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

However, Gilani told a group of journalists yesterday
that Parliament has the "authority to determine immunity
available to the head of state and others."

Protection provided in the Constitution is hindering
action against Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa Governor Owais Ghani for
his alleged role in the killing of Baloch nationalist leader
Nawab Akbar Bugti, Gilani added.

The government has complied with all orders issued by the
Supreme Court in connection with the scrapping of the NRO
except one relating to Zardari, Gilani said.

Even in the case of this order, the government is not
refusing to obey it and has sought the opinion of the
incumbent and former Attorney Generals on the issue, he said.

The opinion of the serving and former law officials will
be produced in the apex court if needed, Gilani said.

Asked about a possible clash between the executive and
judiciary, Gilani rejected the impression and assured that it
would not occur as the role of all institutions has been
determined by the Constitution.

"No institution would like to violate any other`s
jurisdiction and everyone would work sensibly," he said.

He recalled that on a number of occasions when there
were apprehensions about a showdown, the issue was resolved by
him through collective wisdom.

We all are working for the national interest and
for the betterment of the people. We are out to strengthen the
system and, in this spirit, all issues would be resolved," he

Gilani said he knocked on the doors of Parliament
whenever a contentious issue surfaced.

Zardari`s aides have said that the President enjoys
immunity from prosecution and Law Minister Awan has even said
that Swiss authorities would be contacted over his "dead body"
to reopen the cases against Zardari.