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.
Islamabad (AsiaNews) - The Supreme Court of Pakistan has indicted Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on charges of "contempt of court". The Prime Minister is accused of failing to reopen the case against President Asif Ali Zardari, under investigation for an alleged matter of corruption and of having used branches of the Swiss Bank to launder dirty money. Gilani, who risks jail and a ban from all public offices if found guilty, said he was innocent, stressing that the president - who has previously dismissed all charges - enjoys immunity as head of state.

In a heavily guarded courtroom, with a massive deployment of men and equipment, including helicopters and tanks, the first hearing against the Premier was held this morning. Supreme Court judges say Gilani has ignored an injunction under which he was supposed to write to the authorities of the bank and ask them to reopen the case against Zardari. However, the Prime Minister defended himself by explaining that he had received indications that it would be unconstitutional to continue the cause. Meanwhile, the President said that the accusations against him are "political in nature."

At the center of the dispute is the 2007 amnesty for crimes of corruption, overturned by the court in 2009, but ignored by the government. President Zardari - according to some analysts the "real problem" at the heart of the crisis - and other prominent politicians are accused of corruption. In recent weeks, experts have pointed out to AsiaNews that this case revolves around the political survival of the executive and its possibility of carrying out "for the first time" a five year term. Otherwise, the sources say, it is likely that the country will be "torn apart by infighting and bloody confrontations," between the different branches of government: executive, judicial and military.

The court adjourned the trial against Gilani to the 28th February, but the prime minister will not appear in the courts. For critics, the trial risks becoming a "saga" and even if convicted, he will have the right to appeal. Analysts and experts of international politics add that this trial will absorb the time and resources of the Prime Minister, distracting from his task of solving the real problems of Pakistan: development, education, human rights, the fight against Islamic religious fundamentalism.