Pakistani PM agrees to appear in court
Khan said he is happy to go into opposition if his ‘tsunami’ of popular support fails to bring him a landslide victory at elections now widely expected within months. AFP photoPakistan’s beleaguered premier on Jan. 16 agreed to appear in court to face a contempt notice served on him for failing to re-open corruption cases, including proceedings against the president.
The Supreme Court found Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in contempt and summoned him later this week, escalating pressure on a weakened government at a time of crippling tensions with the army which some analysts believe could cost the prime minister his job and force early elections.
The court wants the government to write to Swiss authorities to demand they re-open corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari, including multi-million-dollar money-laundering allegations, after an amnesty expired in late 2009.
Judge Nasir-ul-Mulk on Jan. 16 told the Supreme Court, which met to debate how to proceed on graft charges against Zardari, that Gilani had been ordered to appear before it tomorrow. Gilani agreed to the summons in the National Assembly late Jan. 16, after his ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and its coalition partners passed a resolution expressing full support for democracy and democratic institutions.
“The court has summoned me and I will appear before it as a mark of respect on Jan. 19,” he said in an address televised by Pakistani TV channels. “There can be difference of opinion with the judiciary and the military but they cannot either pack up or derail the whole system. Rather, they have to strengthen it.” “We have struggled for democracy,” he said, adding: “We have to strengthen the parliament and democratic institutions.”
Imran Khan: We would happily go into opposition
After days of high tension between the military and civilian leadership, the resolution insisted “all the state institutions must strictly function within the limits imposed on them by the constitution” and Pakistan’s wellbeing should be ensured through democratic institutions.
Apart from the political crisis, Pakistan’s wildcard politician Imran Khan said he is happy to go into opposition if his “tsunami” of popular support fails to bring him a landslide victory at elections now widely expected within months. The 59-year-old former cricketer has ridden a wave of support buoyed by mass rallies and has openly backed the courts’ pursuit of embattled President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
Khan admitted that his fledgling Movement for Justice could suffer if a series of crises force general elections earlier than September or October. “The ‘tsunami’ is ready. We will be ready. Obviously it suits our party... if this government goes for another six months,” he told Agence France-Presse. Under the Pakistani constitution, a government resigns in favor of an administration of technocrats for up to three months before a general election. “We would happily go into the opposition if we can’t form a government because basically it’s a battle between forces of status quo and forces of change,” Khan said.