Pak SC issues contempt notice to Gilani

Islamabad: Pakistan`s Supreme Court today issued a contempt notice to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for failing to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari and asked him to appear before it on January 19.

The order was issued by a seven-judge bench led by Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk that today began hearing the case related to the apex court`s orders for reopening high-profile graft cases against Zardari and over 8,000 others. The bench directed Gilani to personally appear in court to explain why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against him for deliberately disregarding the court`s orders.

The bench noted that the Supreme Court had issued directions to the government several times to implement its orders regarding the reopening of graft cases. However, the government had deliberately not acted on these orders, it contended.

The court`s order is expected to lead to a fresh confrontation between the government and the judiciary at a time when the ruling Pakistan People`s Party is engaged in a bruising row with the military over the memo scandal. A Supreme Court-appointed panel is also probing the memo issue and held a hearing today that remained inconclusive.

The Supreme Court issued the order against the premier after the government`s top law officer informed it that he had received no instructions regarding the order to reopen the corruption cases.

The court rebuked Attorney General Anwar-ul-Haq for failing to present the government`s response to its orders to write to Swiss authorities to reopen cases of alleged money laundering against President Zardari.