Pak govt calls urgent parl session over SC warning

Islamabad: Leaders of Pakistan`s ruling coalition on Tuesday decided to call an urgent session of parliament on Thursday in the wake of a warning from the Supreme Court that action could be taken against the President and Prime Minister for failing to reopen high-profile corruption cases.

The decision was made at a meeting jointly chaired by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani at the presidency late Tuesday night. The heads of the parties in the ruling coalition led by the Pakistan People`s Party proposed that a session of the National Assembly or lower house of parliament should be "urgently called to discuss the latest political issues", presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.

The leaders agreed that the session of the National Assembly should be called on Thursday at 4 pm, Babar said. The leaders discussed the "current political situation with particular reference to the most recent developments", he said.

"Before the session of the National Assembly, a joint meeting of the parliamentary parties will be held in the Parliament House to work out the strategy to be adopted during the National Assembly session," Babar said.

The meeting was attended by PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Awami National Party leader Asfandyar Wali Khan, senior Muttahida Qaumi Movement leaders Farooq Sattar and Babar Khan Ghauri, and PPP leaders Khursheed Shah, Babar Awan and Raja Pervez Ashraf.

Earlier, President Zardari cut short a visit to Karachi and rushed back to the federal capital following the warning issued by the Supreme Court.  Shortly after arriving in Islamabad, Zardari held a one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Gilani.

The apex court warned that action could be taken against both the President and Prime Minister for failing to act on a court order to reopen corruption cases that were closed under a graft amnesty issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in 2007.

The amnesty was struck down by the apex court in December 2009. Since then, the court has been pressuring the government to reopen corruption cases against Zardari and over 8,000 other beneficiaries of the amnesty.

The government has refused to act on the court`s directives to reopen cases of alleged money laundering against Zardari in Switzerland, saying the President enjoys immunity from prosecution.