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  • » 08/08/2012, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    Pakistani Supreme Court targets new prime minister



    Court hearing scheduled for August 27. Prime Minister charged with failing to reopen the corruption investigation against President Zardari. For the same reason last June, the then Prime Minister Gilani resigned. Risk of a new clash between institutions and political instability in the country. The PPP seeks a strategy for " political survival " even if convicted.

    Islamabad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Pakistani Supreme Court has summoned Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf for failing to reopen a corruption case pending against President Asif Ali Zardari. The case of the legal proceedings against the head of state in recent months led to the indictment of former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani (see AsiaNews 19/06/2012 Supreme Court rules Gilani cannot be premier), who had to leave office giving rise to an unprecedented institutional clash between the executive and judicial powers. Analysts and policy experts warn that the new internal confrontation between the government and judiciary could exacerbate the climate of "instability" and favor the rise of the extremist fringe.

    The new prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraz (pictured) is expected to appear in court on 27 August, but it is impossible to tell if he will respect the courts summons. The leader of the executive is likely to be indicted for "insulting" the Court, because his behavior would hamper the judges work on the corruption case that has implicated President Zardari. Yesterday, the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), the first political force in the country and currently in government decided not to send a formal request to the Swiss authorities to proceed with the reopening of the investigation against the head of state (Zardari is also PPP leader together with his son, Bilawal, ed), but the party intends to "resist" the pressures of the highest legal body "within the limits" enshrined in the Constitution. The PPP leaders aim is to "survive politically" for two or three months, even if judges were to determine Ashraz's removal.

    The roots of the story lie in legal problems that date back to 1990, when Zardari's wife Benazir Bhutto was Prime Minister of Pakistan. The Head of State is alleged to have used branches of the Swiss Bank to "launder money", but the former Prime Minister Gilani has always opposed the reopening of the investigation. The then Prime Minister defended himself by claiming to have received indications that it was "unconstitutional" to continue the case. At the same time, President Zardari has repeatedly reaffirmed that the charges against him are "political in nature."
    Gilani was the first prime minister in Pakistani history to be convicted by a court. The clash of powers - which now continues with Ashraf - are likely completely overshadow priorities for the country that should instead be addressed: from economic growth to the fight against corruption, the sore point of Islamic fundamentalism, coupled with a need to strengthen education and literacy rates.

    Moreover, the Supreme Court rulings and the judiciary's interventions bring the figure of the Chief Judge Iftikhar Chaudhry back to the fore, in the past at the center of a bitter battle with former President Pervez Musharraf, and since then the magistrate has always covertly worked to increase his personal power and prestige in Pakistan.

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    See also

    16/03/2009 PAKISTAN
    The government reinstalls Iftikhar Chaudhry, the opposition calls off the “long march”
    The spread of chaos is avoided. Lawyers and opposition members celebrate. All those arrested over recent days are freed. Nawaz Sharif: Now we will implement real democracy.

    27/02/2008 THAILAND
    After a year in exile, former premier Thaksin returns
    A ‘welcoming committee’ will greet his arrival tomorrow at Suvarnabhumi airport. Thaksin was deposed as head of state in a non violent coup in 2006. Now he will have to appear before the Supreme Court under corruption charges.

    26/04/2012 PAKISTAN
    Supreme Court convicts Prime Minister Gilani to symbolic sentence
    The Prime Minister found guilty of failing to comply with the provisions of the judiciary, calling for the reopening of the investigation of President Zardari, at the center of a corruption scandal. Gilani given symbolic sentence of a few minutes custody in the courtroom. Now the battle moves from a legal footing in the political arena.

    13/02/2012 PAKISTAN
    Supreme Court adjourns trial of Prime Minister Gilani for contempt
    The Prime Minister is accused of insulting the judiciary for not reopening an investigation file for corruption against President Zardari. He risks imprisonment and removal from public office if convicted. But the real danger is the clash between the powers of the state, executive, judicial and military.

    10/03/2008 PAKISTAN
    A new government within a month, prime minister from the Peoples Party
    Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, leaders of the majority parties, reached an agreement with the government yesterday: it will be made official within one month. The selection of the prime minister seems to have gone to Makhdoom Amin Fahim, an authoritative leader of the Peoples Party during the exile of Benazir Bhutto.



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