PM defends Zardari in corruption case

PM defends Zardari in corruption case

PM defends Zardari in corruption case

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani AFP photo

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said corruption charges against Pakistan’s president were “politically motivated” and that the president had immunity as head of state.

The premier’s statements were aired on the eve of a hearing at which he faces indictment for contempt of court over his refusal to request the reopening of corruption cases against his party boss, President Asif Ali Zardari. Gilani is expected to appear before the court today.

“There had been a lot of cases against him, and they were all politically motivated,” Gilani told Al Jazeera television, referring to Zardari. “He has got immunity. And he has not got immunity only in Pakistan, he has transnational immunity, even all over the world.”

Asked if he would rather resign for the sake of the president, Gilani said if convicted of contempt, he would automatically lose his office so there was no need for him to quit. “There’s no need to step down,” he said. “If I’m convicted, then I’m not supposed to be a member of the parliament.” In the wide-ranging interview, Gilani also criticized U.S. drone attacks against militants as counter-productive and said authorities in Islamabad gave no authorization for them.

“I want to inform you that we did not allow or give permission to fly drones from Pakistan,” he said. “Number two, drones are counterproductive. And we had discussed thoroughly with the U.S. administration that we at times make a lot of efforts to very successfully isolate militants from the local tribes.”

Recent U.S. drone attacks last week in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region killed fourteen militants, including a senior militant commander with links to al-Qaeda, Pakistani intelligence officials said. Gilani also said he had “good relations” with the military “at the moment”. That was a reference to tensions pitting the civilian government against the military over a memo sent to the Pentagon seeking U.S. help in preventing a feared military coup after the U.S. commando raid in Pakistan that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.