SC summons Pakistan PM

PPP allies agree to support crisis-hit government

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's continuance in office appeared to be in doubt after the Supreme Court on Monday summoned him to appear in person on Thursday next on contempt charges for failing to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

The apex court’s order came hours before the Pakistan National Assembly adopted a pro-democracy resolution moved by ruling  coalition led by the Pakistan People’s  Party (PPP), which could act as a cosmetic booster for the embattled civilian government which is engaged in a tussle with the powerful army and the influential judiciary.

While issuing the contempt notice, the court asked the 59-year-old Gilani to appear before it on January 19 to explain why proceedings should not be initiated against him for deliberately disregarding the court's order.

The court order was issued by a seven-judge bench led by Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk when it took up the case related to its orders for reopening high-profile graft cases against Zardari and over 8,000 others.

Immediately after the court's order, Gilani held a meeting with Zardari and later met leaders of the ruling PPP-led coalition partners to take stock of the situation arising out of the court's direction.
Zardari was also present at the meeting of alliance partners.

There were unconfirmed reports that Gilani had offered to resign during the meeting, saying that he wanted to take the step if this would strengthen the government and Parliament.

Later,  he spoke at Parliament.  Gilani said the adoption of the resolution “unanimously shows that
Parliament is supreme, sovereign and democracy is stable.”

Gilani also said that he will appear before the Supreme Court on January 19 to face contempt of court notice.

Meanwhile,  on the apex court's notice, PPP leader Faratullah Babar said, “We respect the court and its verdict.” He added that an appropriate response would be formulated after consulting legal experts.

At the meeting, Pakistan's ruling coalition on Monday  reposed full confidence in Gilani, who will appear in the Supreme Court.
Gilani was advised to appear before the apex court to present the views of the ruling alliance.

The meeting was attended by alliance partners Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid,   Awami National Party and Muttahida Qaumi Movement.

Leaders representing the coalition parties said they would accompany the premier to the court, sources said.

President Zardari, too, advised Gilani to appear before the apex court when the two leaders held a separate meeting earlier in the day.

Zardari joined Gilani's meeting with leaders of the coalition parties and discussed the current political situation and said there “is no clash between the institutions.”  He said the PPP always gave “respect and honour to all state institutions, especially the judiciary.”

While addressing the meeting, Gilani also said his government has “respect and honour for all institutions, including the Supreme Court.”

The government “did not want any confrontation with any institution, including the courts,” he said.
Gilani said that in the past, prime ministers were imposed on parliament. Now, the House has become independent enough to elect its own leader.

* Pakistan’s Supreme Court summons  Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani
* Gilani told to appear in person on Thursday on contempt charges
* Prime minister charged with failing to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari
* Gilani asked to explain why proceedings should not be initiated for disregarding court order
* Gilani already in confrontation with the powerful military over the memo scandal
* Gilani holds a meeting with Zardari and leaders of the ruling PPP-led coalition partners

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