`PM's indictment a defining moment in Pakistan's history'

The contempt of court case in which Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has been indicted by the Supreme Court is a defining moment in Pakistan’s history, said a Pakistani daily.

Gilani was Monday indicted by the Supreme Court for refusing to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

An editorial in the News International Tuesday said that Gilani has been defying the Supreme Court’s orders for the last two and a half years, but when the seven-member bench appeared Monday to decide the prime minister’s fate, it did not waste any time in indicting him for "flouting, disregarding and disobeying" its orders.

"Indeed, the prime minister has become the face of the government’s brazen refusal to write to authorities in Switzerland asking them to re-open corruption cases against President (Asif Ali) Zardari and the contempt indictment could see him jailed for six months and disqualified from office," it said.

The editorial went on to say that it is never too late to do the right thing, and "the right thing would be for the chief executive to set an example of submitting to the rule of law regardless of the adverse political and personal costs involved".

It noted that this case is "no longer about President Zardari’s immunity or PM Gilani’s unflinching loyalty towards him; it is a defining moment in Pakistan’s politico-judicial history, one that cannot be sacrificed at the altar of selfish leadership".

"Democracy trumps autocracies and the misrule of military juntas primarily because of its moral authority as exemplified by the rulers. If the verdict of the country’s top court is blatantly violated by the country’s top elected leaders, we can call this a dark moment not only for one man’s political fortunes but for democracy itself."

"The prime minister may be hailed as a hero within his own party’s ranks, but history will definitely not be as kind to him in its own hour of judgment," the editorial added.

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