Pakistan’s Gilani Disqualified as Premier After Ruling

1:06 PM, Wednesday, June 20th, 2012
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Gilani Lahore : Pakistan’s political strains escalated after the Supreme Court disqualified Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani from the job because of a contempt conviction.

Gilani, censured by the court over failure to pursue corruption charges against President Asif Ali Zardari, was disqualified retroactive to April 26, 2012, according to an e- mailed statement from the Election Commission of Pakistan yesterday. Gilani’s party will respond after speaking with its coalition partners, Jehangir Badar, its secretary general, said at a news conference in Islamabad yesterday.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, seen here, was found guilty of contempt of court for failing to pursue corruption charges against President Asif Ali Zardari. Photographer: Jason Lee-Pool/Getty Images
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The dispute clouds the outlook for the government with months to go before the next national elections, scheduled for early next year. Aside from battling the courts, the administration has been engaged with talks over Nato supply lines to Afghanistan, as U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to withdraw troops from Pakistan’s embattled neighbor.

“The most prudent thing for the government to do will be to follow legal procedures and nominate and elect a new prime minister,” said Ali Sarwar Naqvi, a former ambassador. “If they don’t opt for this, there will be chaos.”

Gilani, 60, a member of the Pakistan People’s Party, was appointed as Pakistan’s 25th prime minister in April 2008 and had vowed to complete his term, saying only the speaker of parliament has the power to remove him. Assembly speaker and Zardari ally Fehmida Mirza ruled last month Gilani was free to remain as premier, prompting petitions to the court to disqualify him.

Premier Election

The president should make arrangements for the election of a prime minister, according to yesterday’s court order. Zardari’s PPP-led coalition government has a majority in parliament through which a new prime minister would be elected.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court is also hearing allegations the son of Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the top judge who issued today’s ruling, received more than $4 million and won foreign trips from a property developer in exchange for favorable verdicts in court cases the tycoon faces.

The extended legal and political turmoil may further distract the ruling coalition as it seeks to lift a $200 billion economy hit by power shortages and a rising budget shortfall. Thousands of Pakistanis attacked government buildings and set fire to public property across the Punjab province this week as part of protests against prolonged electricity outages.

The government is also struggling to mend ties with and the U.S. that are critical to addressing the conflict in neighboring Afghanistan.

 

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