Gilani not appealing against contempt conviction

Islamabad: The Pakistan government today decided not to appeal Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani`s conviction of contempt by the Supreme Court for refusing to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

"No appeal is being filed against conviction of Prime Minister Gilani in the contempt of court case," Aitzaz Ahsan, the premier`s lawyer, was quoted as saying by the media.

The decision came two days after the Speaker of the lower house of parliament ruled out Gilani`s disqualification as a lawmaker following his conviction.

Gilani and his key legal and political advisers discussed the issue of challenging the Supreme Court`s verdict yesterday and decided not to file an appeal, official sources said. The deadline for filing the appeal expired at noon today.

The apex court had convicted Gilani on April 26 and given him a symbolic sentence of less than a minute for refusing to act on orders to reopen corruption cases in Switzerland against President Zardari. The government has maintained that it cannot act against the President as he enjoys immunity in Pakistan and abroad.

The Supreme Court has been pressuring the government to revive the corruption 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.

On May 24, National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza decided not to send any proposal for Gilani`s disqualification to the Election Commission and said there was no question of his disqualification as a member of parliament. The Speaker, who belongs to the ruling Pakistan People`s Party, gave her ruling after consultations with legal experts over the past few weeks.