Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Thursday appeared before the
Supreme Court in a contempt of court case for not acting against
President Asif Ali Zardari for corruption and defended his move
saying that the constitution provided immunity to the president.
In what is being seen as a breather to Gilani, the case will now
be heard Feb 1. Justice Asif Saeed Khosa who spoke after Gilani's
seven-minute submission in the court described it as a great day
Gilani said that "it will not give a good message to proceed
against a president who is elected by a two-thirds majority".
"I have discussed this with my friends and experts, and they all
agree that he has got complete immunity," Dawn quoted the prime
minister as saying.
The court had issued Gilani a contempt notice Jan 16.
Gilani said he had spent six years in prison and had never been
reluctant to appear before the court that shows that he always
respected the court, Geo News reported.
He said former prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and his wife
Nusrat Bhutto also appeared before the courts.
"I cannot even think of ridiculing the court and all over the
world the presidents enjoy immunity and constitution of Pakistan
also provides immunity to the president. That is why we did not
write to Swiss authorities," the prime minister was quoted as
The apex court had warned the government of action if its ruling
on the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), granting immunity
to politicians and bureaucrats in corruption cases, was not
implemented by Jan 10, 2012.
The court had also sought reopening of cases closed under the NRO,
struck down as void in 2009. It had ordered the government to
write a letter to the Swiss authorities to reopen cases against
Zardari, accused of graft, had been granted amnesty under the NRO
which was issued in 2007 by then president Pervez Musharraf to
facilitate the return of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and
her husband Zardari.
Gilani's lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan said the graft cases against Zardari
could only be reopened once he was no longer the president.
He sought a month's time to file a response. Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk
responded, saying that access to records could be provided in two
The court also exempted Gilani from appearing for the upcoming
hearing of the case.
The court adjourned the case till Feb 1, giving breathing time to
the prime minister who in recent days was pitted against the
powerful army after he sacked the defence secretary Lt. Gen. (retd)
Naeem Khalid Lodhi.
The prime minister, who himself drove down to the court complex,
smiled and waved after coming out of the court.
Gilani is the second prime minister after Nawaz Sharif to appear
before the Supreme Court. On Nov 3, 1997, Nawaz Sharif had been
issued a contempt petition by then chief justice Sajjad Ali Shah.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had in 1998 accused
Zardari and the late Benazir Bhutto of awarding a pre-shipment
inspection contract to the Societe Generale Surveillance (SGS).
This was done in return for six percent commission on the total
amount the company received from the Pakistan government, it
Earlier in August 2008, Swiss judicial authorities, acting on the
request of the Pakistani government, had closed a money laundering
case against Zardari and released $60 million frozen in Swiss
The Supreme Court had been converted into a virtual fortress, with
the prime minister's security having carried out a thorough
scanning of the premises a day earlier.