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Gilani won't be disqualified: Pak parliament speaker

May 24, 2012 20:04 IST

In a reprieve for Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani, Pakistan parliament's speaker on Thursday ruled out his disqualification in the wake of his conviction for contempt by the supreme court for refusing to revive graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

Fehmida Mirza, Speaker of the national assembly or lower house of parliament, said she has decided not to send any proposal for 59-year-old Gilani's disqualification to the Election Commission.

In a five-page ruling, Mirza, who belongs to the ruling PPP, said the question of Gilani's disqualification did not arise in light of the apex court's verdict against the Premier.

Mirza raised objections to the manner in which the apex court's assistant registrar had conveyed the verdict against Gilani to the national assembly and sought action against the premier.

The ruling said the contents of the letter sent by the apex court's official were in "bad taste" and went "against parliamentary norms and traditions."

The speaker cited several precedents and court rulings to support her decision not to refer the matter to the Election Commission.

The Supreme Court had convicted Gilani and given him a symbolic sentence of less than a minute on April 26 for refusing to act on orders to reopen corruption cases in Switzerland against President Zardari.

The government had maintained that it could not act against the President as he enjoys immunity in Pakistan and abroad.

The apex court had further said the Premier faced the possibility of disqualification due to his conviction.

Legal experts were divided on whether the speaker could settle the issue of Gilani's disqualification.

Gilani had dismissed calls from the opposition to quit following his conviction, saying the speaker alone would decide whether he could continue as a member of the national assembly.

The Premier has the right to appeal his conviction within 30 days and his lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan is expected to file the appeal on Saturday.

Over the past few days, Gilani has met the PPP's legal experts and Ahsan to finalise the draft of the appeal.

The supreme court has been pressuring the government to revive the corruption cases against the President since

December 2009, when it struck down a graft amnesty issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf that had benefited Zardari and over 8,000 others.

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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