Zardari case: PPP not to act on apex court orders

Islamabad: Pakistan`s ruling PPP has decided it will not act on the Supreme Court`s orders to revive graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari at any cost and is prepared to face the potential consequences, including the disqualification of the Premier who is facing a contempt charge.

Even if the court decides to act against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, the PPP is ready to accept that as the Premier has categorically stated in recent remarks, a senior federal minister told the Dawn newspaper.

Both Gilani and Zardari, who is the head of the PPP, had "made up their minds to face the worst", the unnamed minister said. "However, one thing is sure that the present government by its own would not write a letter to the Swiss authorities to reopen graft cases against President Zardari," the minister said.

According to the Premier`s lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan, Gilani would not lose his job even if he is convicted in the contempt case, the minister said.

Under the Constitution, there is a long process to be followed before a member of the National Assembly or lower house of Parliament loses his membership in case of a conviction, the minister added.

In a reply submitted to the Supreme Court on Tuesday regarding the contempt case, Gilani again said the government could not act on orders to revive alleged money laundering cases against Zardari in Switzerland as the President enjoyed immunity both within Pakistan and abroad.

Action could not be taken on the court`s orders as long as Zardari remained in office, Gilani said. He further suggested that the matter of Presidential immunity should be referred to Parliament.

The apex court has been pushing the government to revive the cases against Zardari since December 2009, when it struck down a graft amnesty issued by the then military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

During a lunch he hosted in honour of visiting Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirndhora on Tuesday, Gilani was composed and smiling, and showed no signs of strain due to the contempt case in the apex court. "Mr Gilani was looking his usual self. At no point and time did he give the impression that his job was on the line; or that an adverse court ruling on the contempt charges could send him home," the Dawn reported.

An unnamed leader of a party that is in the PPP-led ruling coalition told the daily that the "the PPP leadership was really looking pumped up" after having secured a majority in the Senate in recent polls and having entered the last year of its five-year tenure.

On the other hand, the Supreme Court had lost crucial time in the contempt case which could have been decided a long time ago, the leader said.

The leader believed that any court decision that removed Gilani from his post would only benefit the PPP because it would once again cry foul. "I personally believe the court will not provide this opportunity to the PPP and let it face people in the next general election," the leader said.

In the response submitted in the apex court on Tuesday, Gilani raised many points, including his distrust in a seven-judge bench hearing the contempt case and this has made the job difficult for judges. Observers have said the PPP is fighting the case on political and legal grounds and the court would have to be very careful in its response.