Pakistan SC dismisses Gilani's contempt appeal

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Islamabad, Feb 10: Dealing a body blow to embattled Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani, Pakistan's Supreme Court today rejected his appeal against framing of contempt charges over his failure to reopen graft cases against the President, a move likely to plunge the country into a fresh political turmoil.

Before dismissing Gilani's appeal against his February 13 appearance before the apex court for framing of contempt charges, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, who headed an eight- member bench, sought a clear answer from his lawyer if the Prime Minister would write a letter to Swiss government for reopening of graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

"We are ready to give you 10 minutes to talk to the Prime Minister on the phone and let us know," he said.

Gilani's lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan replied "I have no mandate to do that." The Prime Minister, who has no option but to appear before the court on February 13, if convicted, faces jail term of six months and disqualification from holding public office for five years. "The appeal is dismissed," Chief Justice Chaudhry said, reading the decision of the bench.

He said no one wants unrest. "We are exercising restraint." "Tell the Prime Minister this (to defy court order) is not in the interest of the country," Chaudhry told Ahsan. According to observers, the rejection of 59-year-old Gilani's appeal will prolong a stand-off between the government and the judiciary, which many believe is being backed by the military. 

PTI 

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