Supreme Court Disqualifies Prime Minister of Pakistan, Orders Him to Leave Office
Supreme Court in Pakistan on Tuesday demanded that prime minister Yusaf Raza Gilani be “disqualified” as prime minister and removed from office, following a case of contempt of court earlier this year as he refused to revive a case of corruption against incumbent president Asif Ali Zardari.
Gilani was demanded to ask the Swiss authorities about some accounts which were considered in connection with irregular dealings of the president. When he refused to comply was brought to court on charges related to refuse to cooperate with justice.
The judicial in Pakistan suspected that Asif Ali Zardari and his wife, late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, had taken bribery from Swiss companies, and has demanded the prime minister since 2009 to write a letter to the Swiss authorities and demand clarifications.
Gilani has consistently refused to do so, arguing that the president enjoyed immunity for the duration of his office, and that he could not investigate him for that reason.
The court found him guilty of contempt of court but did not impose any jail term for this, though the law permitted it to sentence him to at most six months in prison. In exchange, the court decided that the conviction takes effect since April 26, when it was pronounced, thus placing a lot of legislative acts Gilani has signed under the possibility that they may be null.
It was not clear whether the prime minister would resist the ruling or will create legislation to make it null, but analysts believe that this situation could throw the country into political chaos, and a constitutional standoff.
If Gilani is forced to stand down, the party has the power in the parliament to elect a successor from the same political side, but the image of the president would suffer at a time when he is preparing for elections at a time when the electorate is most dissatisfied with the economic performance and the power outages which leave many Pakistanis without electrical power for 12 hours or more a day.
According to Pakistani law, a lawmaker or prime minister accused of contempt can remain in position, if the parliament’s speaker decides so, which in this case was decided by the speaker of the parliament, who is a member of the same party as Gilani.
The opposition however filed complaints against the speaker’s decision, and a three-judge panel agreed that in the case of Gilani disqualification must be followed by leaving the office of prime minister.11