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Pakistan PM to appear in Supreme Court tomorrow

September 17, 2012 22:33 IST

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf is expected to appear in Pakistan's Supreme Court on Tuesday to face a contempt charge but the government has no plans to reopen graft cases against the President, an aide to the premier said on Monday.

"The prime minister is expected to go to the court on Tuesday. However, there is no change in the government's position -- that the cases against President Asif Ali Zardari will not be revived," the aide, who did not wish to be named, told PTI on Monday evening.

At the last hearing on August 27, a five-judge bench accepted Ashraf's plea for more time to address the issue of reopening the cases against Zardari and gave him three weeks.

The bench directed the premier to personally appear at Tuesday's hearing.

Ashraf is the second premier to appear in the apex court to face a contempt charge for refusing to revive the cases against Zardari in Switzerland.

His predecessor, Yusuf Raza Gilani, was convicted of contempt and disqualified in June.

Law Minister Farooq Naek met the premier on Monday ahead of the hearing, officials said.

The Supreme Court has been pressuring the government to revive the cases against the President since December 2009, when it struck down a graft amnesty issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf that benefited Zardari and over 8,000 others.

The government has refused to act, saying the President enjoys immunity in Pakistan and abroad.

The ruling Pakistan Peoples Party and some legal experts have accused the apex court of acting in a biased manner by going after only Zardari, while ignoring the other beneficiaries of the graft amnesty.

Legal experts also believe that the apex court and the government are running out of options and this could lead to a confrontation between the two institutions.

The PPP has said it is willing to nominate other people to become the premier if Ashraf is disqualified.

During the last hearing, the judges repeatedly asked Ashraf to give a commitment about approaching Swiss authorities to reopen the cases against Zardari. The bench said he should nominate a minister who could take up the matter with the Swiss authorities, but Ashraf did not say anything in this regard.

Extensive security measures were put in place on Monday for Ashraf's second appearance in the apex court.

Special cameras were installed in the courtrooms, entry gates and reception areas of the Supreme Court to ensure decorum and security, officials said.

Entry to courtroom No 4, where the hearing will be held, will be restricted to holders of special passes. Journalists will have to deposit their mobile phones before entering the courtroom.

Rezaul H Laskar
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