Pakistan's ruling PPP prepares for showdown with judiciary

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Raja-Parvez-Ashraf
Islamabad, Aug 25: With a showdown between the government and the judiciary looming, top leaders of Pakistan's ruling party have held meetings to prepare a strategy for the standoff and to decide whether the Premier should appear in court on Monday to face a contempt charge. The apex court's order asking Raja Pervez Ashraf to appear before a five-judge bench was discussed at a meeting of the Pakistan People's Party's (PPP) top leadership chaired on Friday night by Prime Minister Ashraf and President Asif Ali Zardari.

The matter also figured at a meeting held on Saturday between Ashraf and Law Minister Farooq H Naek, sources said. Naek briefed the premier on options available to the government, the sources said. Both leaders agreed that the government does not want any confrontation with the judiciary and that it would act on any ruling from the apex court while keeping the interests of the people and the country in mind, the sources added.

Though an official statement issued after Friday's meeting made no mention of the case in the apex court, presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar told the media that a final decision on the premier's appearance in court will be made after the PPP consults its allies in the ruling coalition. Zardari is expected to meet leaders of the parties in the PPP-led coalition on Sunday, sources said.

Several top PPP leaders, including former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani and Attorney General Irfan Qadir have advised Ashraf not to appear in the apex court next week. Gilani, the vice-chairman of the PPP, has even warned that the party will not accept any unconstitutional move by the apex court against Ashraf.

PTI

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