High court challenges Pakistani PM

High court challenges Pakistani PM

Pakistan’s top court Feb. 10 threw out a last-ditch appeal from embattled Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, ordering him to appear in court Feb. 13 to be indicted for contempt. If convicted, Gilani faces six months in jail and being disqualified from office in a case fanning political instability that expected to force elections within months.

The Supreme Court is now insistent that Gilani appear for the framing of contempt charges over the government’s two-year refusal to ask Swiss authorities to re-open graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, were suspected of using Swiss bank accounts to launder about $12 million in alleged bribes paid by companies seeking customs inspection contracts in Pakistan in the 1990s.

Chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had said the court would only drop the summons if Gilani obeyed its order of writing to the Swiss authorities, asking them to re-open the cases.

Arrests in Rabbani murder

Meanwhile, Pakistan has arrested two people in connection with last year’s assassination of a former Afghan president who was trying to broker peace with the Taliban, two Afghan government officials said on Feb. 10. The officials told that the two were detained in the Pakistani city of Quetta, the alleged base of the Taliban insurgency.

Relations with Pakistan soured after the assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani, Afghanistan’s former president and head of the government-appointed peace council. Rabbani was killed Sept. 20, 2011 in his home in Kabul by a suicide bomber posing as a peace emissary from the Taliban. Afghan officials blamed Pakistan-based insurgents for the killing, which sapped hope for reconciling with the Taliban.