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Pak SC disqualifies PM Gilani
President Zardari weighs options on electing new premier; House may meet today
Afzal Khan in Islamabad

The Pakistan Supreme Court on Tuesday declared that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani stood disqualified since April 26 and ceased to be the premier since that date. The court also asked President Asif Ali Zardari to take steps for continuity of the democratic process, an apparent reference to the election of a new prime minister. Gilani was elected Prime Minister in March 2008 and has remained in that office longer than any other elected leader in the country’s history.

Capping nearly 30 months of bitter feud between the judiciary and the government, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry held that Gilani, 60, “ceased” to be the Prime Minister from April 26 this year.

Gilani was then convicted and sentenced for not obeying court orders to reopen graft charges in Switzerland against President Zardari.

Contrary to expectations that the PPP will back him to the hilt, the ruling party said it would abide by the verdict and set in motion the process of selecting Gilani’s successor.

The Election Commission also issued a formal notice disqualifying Gilani as a Member of Parliament, hours after the Supreme Court ordered it to do so.

A session of the National Assembly or lower house of Parliament is likely to be convened on Wednesday for the formal election of the new premier.

Today’s verdict came in response to several petitions that had challenged National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza’s decision not to disqualify Gilani following his conviction.

“Since no appeal was filed against this (April 26) judgment, the conviction has attained finality. Therefore, Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani has become disqualified from being a Member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) in terms of Article 63(1)(g) of the Constitution on and from the date and time of pronouncement of the judgment of this court dated April 26, 2012, with all consequences,” the court said.

It added, “He (Gilani) has also ceased to be the Prime Minister of Pakistan with effect from the said date and the office of the Prime Minister shall be deemed to be vacant accordingly”.

The bench directed the Election Commission to issue a notification stating that Gilani was no longer a member of Parliament.

Amid intense activity in the capital following Supreme Court’s decision disqualifying PM Yousaf Raza Gilani, President Asif Zardari remained huddled with senior PPP leaders to discuss his options and convened another meeting of coalition partners.

There was no official words from the Presidency after party meeting but media reports said the party leadership authorized Zardari to take final decision after due consultation with allies. A predominant view within the PPP and coalition, however, appeared to be favouring acceptance of the court’s judgment. 

What next?
  • Federal ministers Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, Makhdoom Shahabuddin, Khursheed Shah and Hina Rabbani Khar are among those being considered for the post of premier
  • Legal experts said the new PM would face the same challenge of implementing the court’s directive to write to Swiss authorities for reopening the money-laundering case against President Zardari or be disqualified in case of refusal to do so





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