PPP, coalition partners decide Gilani should appear before SC

PPP, coalition partners decide Gilani should appear before SC

Hours after Pakistan Supreme Court today issued a contempt notice to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, the leaders of ruling coalition decided that he should appear in the apex court on January 19 in the matter relating to reopening of corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

The decision was made at a meeting of top leaders of the ruling Pakistan People's Party and its coalition partners that was chaired by Gilani hours after he was served the notice by the apex court and summoned to appear in person on January 19.

The leaders of the coalition advised Gilani to appear before the apex court and present the views of the ruling coalition, sources told PTI.

Leaders of the coalition parties said they would accompany the premier for his appearance in court, the sources added.

Gilani was also advised by President Zardari to appear before the apex court, Geo News channel said.

Zardari was present during Gilani's meeting with the leaders of the coalition parties, including the PML-Q, Awami National Party (ANP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement.

Earlier in the day, Zardari and Gilani held a separate meeting and discussed the current political situation.

Gilani reportedly offered to resign during his meeting with the PPP's coalition partners, ARY News channel quoted its sources as saying.

The premier reportedly said he was ready to quit if such a step strengthened the government and parliament.

The meeting of the PPP and its allies also discussed their strategy for the resolution on strengthening democracy that will be voted on by the National Assembly or lower house of parliament this evening.

The allies assured the PPP that they would fully back the resolution.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters that the resolution would be passed with a majority in the National Assembly.

The resolution is aimed at supporting the democratic process and ensuring the continuity of the parliamentary system, he said.

The ANP introduced the resolution last week against the backdrop of a simmering row between the government and the powerful military over an alleged memo that had sought US help to stave off a feared coup in Pakistan after the killing of Osama bin Laden last year.

The government is also locked in a stand-off with the judiciary over reviving high-profile graft cases.

Adding to the woes, a Supreme Court bench issued the notice for contempt of court against Gilani this morning for failing to act on orders to reopen graft cases in Switzerland against Zardari.

Law Minister Maula Bux Chandio told reporters that the issuance of the contempt notice by the Supreme Court to Gilani was not an ordinary matter.

The government will examine the notice and respond in accordance with the law and the Constitution, he said.