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Pakistan PM Contempt Verdict

Posted on May 17, 2012 in GlobeScope

By Anavil Jaiswal:

Asif Ali Zardari is the 11th and the current president of Pakistan. He has been accused for various charges since early 90s. It was on 10th of October 1990 that he was arrested on charges of kidnapping and extortion. He was also indicted for corruption related to money laundering in the month of July 1998 by the Swiss government. In the year 2008, when Zardari took over as the president, the cases against him were shelved while being considered to be immune from prosecution. However, in December 2009, the Supreme Court of Pakistan threw light on the buried cases against the president and other politicians.

The Court ordered Yousuf Raza Gilani, the then as well as the current Prime Minister of Pakistan to get the dormant cases to be reviewed by the Swiss authorities. Gilani refused to obey the same while insisting that Zardari had full immunity. He was put on trial for three months which came to an end on 24th of April 2012 when defence and prosecution counsels concluded their arguments. The next day, i.e. on 25th of April 2012, he was convicted for violating the Article 63-1(G) of the Constitution of Pakistan. On 26th, he became the first Prime Minister of Pakistan to be convicted while holding office, on the charges of Contempt of Court for “wilfully flouting and disregarding” its order. His action was decided to be detrimental to justice and the reputation of the court. The charges carried a prison sentence of six months, while the conviction could lead him to be disqualified from office. The seven-judge bench found him to be guilty, however gave a symbolic punishment of a few seconds, to be held in custody till the rising of the court. The verdict was a short order, very lenient and also rather vague. Gilani was flanked by his supporters, dividing the masses to be for or against him.

The decision of the court was called a redundant activity by Imran Khan while Nawaz Sharif insisted that Gilani will have to bear the consequences of his support to Zardari. The court transferred the final decision of Gilani’s disqualification as an M P in the hands of the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Chief Election Commissioner. A defiant Gilani refused to step down as he reserves the right to appeal against the SC’s verdict once the full verdict is handed over. He also believes to enjoy immunity under Article 248(1), doing what he thought to be right. Now, the whole Pakistan along with the rest of the world is eager to see the next step, while 65% Pakistanis have voted against Gilani in a poll conducted by a leading media group, Geo news.