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Pakistan PM Gilani fate hangs in balance

By Muhammad Tahir (Xinhua)

16:59, February 13, 2012

ISLAMABAD, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- All eyes will be on the Supreme Court's verdict when Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani appears before the apex court on Monday for formal charges in contempt proceedings.

The Supreme Court on Feb. 10 rejected Gilani's appeal, seeking to withdraw "contempt of court's charges", which the apex court has levelled against him for not taking steps to probe Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari for alleged corruption charges despite court's previous order.

The prime minister's defence lawyer, barrister Aitzaz Ahsan says, Mr Gilani will appear before the larger bench of the court to be formally charged for not implementing the court orders.

The prime minister and his ruling Pakistan Peoples party (PPP) have so far refused to write to Swiss authorities to reopen corruption cases against President Zardari in spite of several court's orders.

They argue that the president enjoys immunity under the constitution as head of state. The ruling party also claims that the corruption charges are politically motivated. But the court is not impressed and Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary, who had dismissed Gilani's review appeal on Friday, observed that "the court can go to any extent to implement its verdict".

Gilani had earlier appeared before a seven-member larger bench of the Supreme Court on January 19 and defended his government's decision not to approach the Swiss authorities to reopen graft cases against President Zardari, who is also co-Chairman of the PPP.

The country's anti-graft institution says that millions of dollars have been transferred to Swiss banks illegally and that the money must be returned. The National Accountability Bureau had earlier suggested a probe as to how the money had been shifted to Swiss banks and that it must be investigated who own the money.

The court ordered reopening of all graft cases in 2009 that were dropped against President Zardari and nearly 8000 people, mostly political leaders and government officials, under a law introduced by former military President Pervez Musharraf. The National Reconciliation Ordinance was issued in 2007 at the conclusion of secreat talks between Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto.

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