Will appear before SC, Pak PM tells Parliament

Last Updated: Thursday, February 2, 2012 - 22:19

Islamabad: Pakistan`s embattled Prime
Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told the Parliament on Thursday that he
would appear before the Supreme Court that has summoned him
next week to frame contempt charges for refusing to revive
graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

"I want to assure you that I appeared when the (apex)
court summoned me earlier and I will appear again if they say
so. If we do not respect institutions, then who will?" Gilani
said as members of the treasury benches in the National
Assembly, or lower house of parliament, thumped their desks.

Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court summoned Gilani to
appear in person on February 13 for the framing of contempt of
court charges against him for failing to act on orders to
reopen cases of alleged money laundering against Zardari in
Switzerland.

If Gilani is convicted of contempt, he could face a
prison term of six months and be disqualified from holding
public office for five years.

Gilani`s lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan, one of Pakistan`s leading
legal minds, said the premier had the right to appeal today`s
order and could continue in his post even if he is convicted.

Responding to points raised by the opposition in
parliament, Gilani said all state institutions should work
while remaining within their constitutional limits.

"Everybody should follow the Constitution of Pakistan.
And if all institutions do their work while remaining within
the limits of the Constitution of 1973, then there will no
criticism of any sort," he said.

The premier further said that "all institutions are
answerable to parliament and because of this, we are ready to
do whatever parliament wants".

Gilani had personally appeared before a seven-judge bench
when it first took up the contempt case against him on January
19.

He was conciliatory in his first appearance in an attempt
to defuse a tense standoff between his government and the
judiciary.

The Supreme Court has been pressuring the government to
reopen cases of alleged money laundering against Zardari in
Switzerland after it struck down the National Reconciliation
Ordinance, a graft amnesty passed by former President Parvez
Musharraf, in December 2009.

The government has refused to act on the court`s orders,
arguing that the President enjoys immunity from prosecution
within Pakistan and abroad.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, February 2, 2012 - 22:19

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