Insisting that his government does not want a confrontation with the judiciary,Pakistan Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani said he will respect decisions made by the Supreme Court,which is set to charge him with contempt for failing to act on its order to reopen graft cases against the President.
The Prime Minister’s remarks came amid reports that the ruling PPP’s top leadership has decided to contest the apex court’s move to frame contempt charges against him when he appears before it on February 13.
“I will respect the court’s decision,” Gilani told reporters in Lahore when asked how he felt about the prospect of being possibly convicted and jailed by the same judges whom he had freed from detention and restored to their posts after they were deposed by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.
“The case is in court,my lawyer will speak (on this),” he said in response to a question on acting on the apex court’s order to write to Swiss authorities to revive cases of alleged money laundering against President Asif Ali Zardari.
He declined to go into details of the case against him in the apex court. “Have patience for a few days,” he said.
Gilani insisted that his government had not sought a confrontation with other state institutions,including the judiciary,in the past and would not do so in future. His lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan is likely to file an appeal in a few days against the apex court’s order summoning the Premier on February 13 for the framing of contempt charges.
The government’s stand in the matter has been influenced by its desire to ensure that nothing affects the holding of polls to the Senate or upper house of Parliament scheduled for next month,The Express Tribune quoted its sources as saying.
The PPP’s top leaders have advised cadres “not to resort to public rhetorical attacks against the assertive judiciary”,the report said.
The PPP will fight its case in court “with all its might”,arguing that Zardari enjoys immunity under the Constitution from prosecution in all criminal proceedings inside and outside the country.
Most PPP leaders were tight-lipped when asked to comment on proceedings in the apex court.
However,a majority of them said during informal interactions that the government was being “squeezed” by the judiciary. “We have a right to go for a review,as has been mentioned by the counsel of the PM,” an unnamed PPP leader said.
“One should not forget that after the 18th Amendment that right of a fair trial has been recognised as a basic right of every citizen under clause 10A of the Constitution.”
Hours after the apex court summoned him to appear in person on February 13 for framing of contempt charges against him,the Prime Minister told the Parliament on Thursday that he would appear before the Supreme Court. “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 had said as members of the treasury benches in the National Assembly,or lower house of Parliament,thumped their desks.
Responding to a question on conspiracies being hatched against his government,Gilani today said in Lahore: “I had said six months ago that all these conspiracies were aimed at stopping the Senate elections and that will become clear to everyone in few days.”
The ruling Pakistan People’s Party is expected to win a majority of the 54 Senate seats in next the month’s polls.
PPP leaders have alleged opposition parties are behind efforts to disrupt these polls and to pressure the government to advance the general election.
Gilani asserted that the elections to the Senate will be held on time. “After that,the fifth national budget will be presented which will be unprecedented in the history of Pakistan. After the budget,those people or parties who want to go in for polls,can come and talk to me,” he said.
Asked why the Supreme Court had never summoned main opposition PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif though a case related to his assets had been pending for a long time,Gilani said: “I am called because this is my court and I will go.”
The Premier dismissed Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s claim that elements in Islamabad were behind a “conspiracy” that led to the death of over 100 people who were given bad drugs by a state-run hospital in Lahore.
“There is no need to conspire against (the Punjab government),” Gilani said.