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Gilani may face second contempt case: Pakistan SC

By Rezaul H Laskar
March 29, 2012 14:24 IST
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Adding to woes of Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani, Pakistan's Supreme Court on Thursday warned him that a second contempt case could be initiated against him if he failed to act on its verdict that annulled a graft amnesty issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

During a hearing by a seven-judge bench on the implementation of the apex court's verdict striking down the National Reconciliation Ordinance, Justice Ejaz Afzal

Khan said that another case of contempt could be taken up against Gilani if he does not act on the court's orders.

The same bench is hearing a contempt case initiated against Gilani earlier this year after he failed to act on the court's orders to approach Swiss authorities to revive cases of alleged money laundering against President Asif Ali Zardari.

The NRO, which was issued by Musharraf in late 2007 as part of a secret understanding between him and slain former premier Benazir Bhutto, benefited Zardari and over 8,000 others.

Since the Supreme Court struck down the graft amnesty in December 2009, it has been pressuring the government to reopen corruption cases against Zardari.

During Thursday's proceedings, the bench said it would announce its verdict in the NRO case on April 16.

Attorney General Anwar-ul-Haq argued that it was not possible to implement the court's orders on the NRO while the contempt case against Gilani was still being heard.

He requested the bench to put off the NRO case till a verdict is delivered in the contempt case.

Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk, the head of the bench, remarked that the premier could not be held free in the NRO case simply because the contempt case was being heard simultaneously.

Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan said approaching the Swiss government on the graft cases was mandatory.

If Gilani does not follow the court's orders, a second contempt case is possible against him, Khan said.

Justice Ather Saeed, another member of the bench, said the Supreme Court had already rejected the government's petition seeking a review of the order striking down the NRO and, therefore, approaching the Swiss government was obligatory.

The government has maintained that it cannot ask the Swiss government to reopen the graft cases against Zardari as the constitution gives the President immunity in Pakistan and abroad.

Gilani has said he would prefer to be jailed than violate the constitution by asking Swiss authorities to reopen the cases against Zardari.

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Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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