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Contempt charges hold

A register of reports and views from the Pakistan press

Written by Ruchika Talwar |
February 11, 2012 3:44:57 am

A register of reports and views from the Pakistan press

Contempt charges hold

Pakistan’s Supreme Court repeated last week’s verdict on Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani,charging him with contempt of court.

Gilani’s lawyer,Aitzaz Ahsan,had argued that his client was not guilty in not writing to Switzerland to reopen corruption charges against President Asif Zardari. However,the court had decided last week to summon Gilani and frame contempt of court charges against him. Gilani had announced he would appear,and is now slotted to appear on February 13.

Ahsan had filed a 200-page intra-court appeal in the Supreme Court,pointing out 53 legal and constitutional points which emphasised that Gilani did not defy the constitution by not writing the letter,The Express Tribune reported on February 8.

On February 9,Ahsan appeared before the bench in session that lasted six hours. Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry remarked that the “appeal itself was in contempt of the court” and,once again,no side budged on the need to write to the Swiss authorities,reported the paper. Ahsan was also directed to remove “objectionable” paragraphs from the appeal,with which he complied. Ahsan had said that the contempt case cannot be initiated against a PM who helped restore the judges,after the Musharraf emergency that toppled Pakistan’s chief justice. “It is an effort to influence the Supreme Court hearing and its judges,” the chief justice said,according to The Express Tribune. The hearing of the case was adjourned till February 10.

When Ahsan appeared on February 10,Dawn’s website reported: “The Supreme Court on Friday threw out an appeal from embattled Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani against contempt charges,paving the way for him to be indicted next week.”

Memogate twist

After Husain Haqqani,Pakistan’s former envoy to the US,left the country and Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz refused to testify on Pakistani soil,the Memogate scandal had quietened,until now. Pakistan’s foreign secretary,Salman Bashir,was summoned at a 30-minute notice by the Supreme Court’s judicial commission probing the Memogate case. The commission,upon its formation,had directed the government to share with it all documents relevant to the case. It accused the government of not complying. Bashir appeared before the commission to explain why correspondence between the foreign ministry and Canadian telecom company Research In Motion (RIM) was not shared with the commission. According to Daily Times on February 10,the attorney general informed the commission that RIM refused to release the data related to Memogate on the grounds of protecting customer privacy,Haqqani and Ijaz in this case. The News reported on February 9: “The commission asked Attorney General Maulvi Anwar-ul-Haq that if the letter written to RIM seeking the BlackBerry record [of the exchange between Haqqani and Ijaz was returned on January 23,then why the commission was not informed about it.” Ijaz has now said he will testify via video link from London.

What a whale

Amidst all this,a dead whale has captured much public attention — the gigantic sea mammal,weighing almost 15 tonnes and measuring nearly 35 feet in length,became a talking point between the fisherman who caught it and the administration,which wants to preserve it for academic purposes. Dawn reported on February 9 that the whale was sold for PKR 2,00,000. The Express Tribune quoted some “Bengali fishermen” on February 8 who “were quick to take the credit”. “We want everyone to know that only the Bengalis could catch such a large fish… The men who had actually caught it were also Bengalis… a short four-foot tall Bengali fisherman had jumped onto the whale with a knife and killed it.”

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