Entries in Yousuf Raza Gilani (5)


Pakistani's Prime Minister Disqualified by Top Court

TONY ASHBY/AFP/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- In a huge blow to the country's ruling party, Pakistan's Supreme Court disqualified the country's prime minister from holding office on Tuesday after finding him in contempt of court earlier in the year.

"Yousuf Raza Gilani is disqualified from membership of parliament from April 26, the date of his conviction," said Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the chief justice of the Supreme Court.

"He has also ceased to be the prime minister of Pakistan," the chief justice stated.

The ruling stems from an earlier verdict that found Gilani guilty of contempt for refusing to reopen a corruption investigation into the activities of the country's president, Asif Ali Zardari, who Gilani considers a friend and mentor.

At the time, Gilani stated that he would not reopen the investigation because Pakistan's laws protect the country's president from prosecution.  The Supreme Court disagreed, and found him in contempt in April, a move that set off a battle between the country's judiciary and its parliament, culminating in Tuesday's dismissal.

The Supreme Court has now called on Zardari to convene a parliamentary election for Gilani's replacement.  Parliament will now be called into session, where the ruling People's Party of Pakistan, or PPP, is expected to nominate his successor.

The ruling comes as a big test of Pakistan's democratic system.  Critics worry that the latest political turmoil could throw the nuclear-armed nation into a full-fledged crisis, forcing the military to intervene, as it has in the past. Pakistan has seen three military coups in its short history.

This time is expected to be different.  Military sources say the country's top commander, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, has no intention to interfere and will allow the democratic process to run its course.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pakistan's Top Court Convicts Prime Minister of Contempt

TONY ASHBY/AFP/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- Pakistan's Supreme Court has convicted the country's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani of contempt, the latest step in a case that has stoked political tensions for months and threatens to launch the country into a new political crisis.

"The prime minister is found guilty of contempt for willfully flouting the direction of the Supreme Court," read Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk on Thursday to a courtroom packed with Gilani supporters, many wearing Pakistani flags pinned to their lapels.

"His offence tends to bring this court and the judiciary of this country into ridicule," he said.

As part of the ruling, the Supreme Court ordered him sentenced only "until the rising of the court," a process that lasted mere minutes.  Although the sentence was a symbolic gesture, meaning Gilani avoids any jail time, he still faces an uncertain political future.  Now that he has been convicted, he could be dismissed from office.

The case against Gilani, the country's second highest ranking politician, stems from a corruption case in the 1990s against Pakistan's president, Asif Ali Zardari, before he came to power.  The corruption case was dismissed in 2007 under an amnesty rule issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, but the Supreme Court later reversed the decision, ordering Gilani to reopen the probe.  He refused, arguing that the president is immune from prosecution during his term.  In response, the Supreme Court charged him with contempt.

The scene outside the courthouse Thursday was pandemonium as Gilani arrived to hundreds of his supporters chanting "Jia Jia Bhutto," a rallying cry for the Pakistan People's Party (PPP).  As he emerged, throngs of people, including several members of cabinet, jostled for positions with journalists and riot police to get close to the prime minister, before he was quickly ushered away.

For the ruling PPP, which had threatened nation-wide protests if Gilani was sentenced to any jail time, the verdict represents neither a victory nor a defeat.  The PPP has routinely criticized the Supreme Court for being too politicized and targeting members of its party unfairly.

"It's not a new case, it's not a new history," said current Cabinet Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan, speaking to media outside the courthouse.  "It's the continuity of the previous biased behaviors of the courts."

Others say the verdict amounts to a victory for the Pakistani people.

"In our country, the law is now supreme," said Raja Asif Abbas, a former federal prosecutor who conducted several high profile corruption cases in the past.  "The constitution is now the supreme thing.  The rule of law is there no matter what.  If you are driving a cab or if you are the chief executive of the country, we are all treated equally before the eyes of the law."

Now that Gilani has been found guilty, the issue will be referred to the speaker of the House, who can begin a months-long process that would culminate in Gilani's dismissal from his post.  Equally as likely, analysts say, the ruling party could wait out the process, and call elections for the fall, bypassing the dismissal process altogether.

Gilani's lawyer has already said he will appeal the decision, a move that could delay things even further.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Iran and Pakistan Strengthen Ties

ABC News(BEIJING, China) -- In what has to be regarded as a setback for the Obama administration, Pakistan and Iran are seeking to improve diplomatic relations through the purchase of energy.

Attending the Boao Forum for Asia 2012 in China over the weekend, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani discussed importing 1,100 megawatts of electricity from Tehran to combat his country's power shortage with Iranian Vice President Mohammad-Javad Mohammadizadeh. The two countries are already working on other power projects.

Gilani also maintained that his government wants to see a peaceful resolution regarding the issue of Iran's nuclear program, while the Iranian vice president called for better contacts for the benefit of the two nations.

The U.S. has had no diplomatic ties with Tehran for more than 30 years as President Obama has clamped down further on Iran by imposing tougher oil import sanctions to force its hand on the nuclear question.

Meanwhile, relations between Washington and Islamabad have been strained by the still simmering controversy over two dozen Pakistani soldiers killed last November in a NATO airstrike.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pakistan's Prime Minister Charged with Contempt of Court

TONY ASHBY/AFP/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD, Pakistan) --  Pakistan's longest serving prime minister was charged with contempt of court on Monday, triggering proceedings that could paralyze an already weak government and lead to his removal from office.

Even if Yousuf Raza Gilani is convicted and thrown in jail, that is not expected to cause the government to fall, and important Senate elections will almost certainly proceed in early March. Still, the Pakistan People's Party continues to struggle to govern a country suffering from an economic crisis and ongoing violence. The contempt proceedings are likely to further divert attention from critical subjects, including a new set of rules of engagement with the U.S.

You "have willfully flouted, disregarded, and disobeyed instructions given by this court," read Justice Nasir ul-Mulk, the head of a seven-judge panel of Pakistan's highest court.  "You have committed contempt of court ... and you are to be tried."

In 2009, the Court demanded that the government invite Switzerland to reopen corruption charges against President Asif Ali Zardari, who was accused of laundering money through Swiss banks. Gilani has refused, arguing that Zardari maintains immunity so long as he is president, and that the cases, which led to guilty findings in the 1990s, were politically motivated.

On Monday, Gilani appeared in court and pleaded not guilty. His trial will begin later this month and will likely be dragged on for weeks, if not months.

"I am sanguine that the court will show restraint," said Punjab governor Latif Khosa, a senior member of the ruling Pakistan People's Party and a former attorney general.

Even though Monday did not bring the downfall of the government, as some Pakistani media had suggested, it was still a historic challenge to the country's fragile democracy. Gilani is the first sitting prime minister to be indicted with contempt of court and some fear that the court is trying to bring the government down, perhaps in collusion with the country's powerful military. 

"This democratic dispensation -- regardless of its own faults, regardless of its own omissions -- it has had to face a lot of pressure, from Rawalpindi, from Apbarra," said Ayaz Amir, a columnist and an opposition member of parliament, referring to the headquarters of the military and its premier intelligence service.  "It will be some time before we can say that look here, the tree of democracy has struck deep and strong roots, and it is there to stand."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pakistani, Afghan Leaders Dismiss WikiLeaks Claims

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai (R) shakes hands with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani (L) after a press conference Saturday in Kabul. Photo Courtesy - MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- In a joint press conference Saturday in Kabul, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani both dismissed revelations contained in cables released by WikiLeaks as inaccurate and unsurprising. Karzai rejected allegations of corruption not by denying them, but by suggesting that the most outlandish allegation – that his former vice president smuggled $52 million in cash to Dubai – was physically impossible.

"$52 million! If you put $52 million in boxes it will be at least 30 big suitcases,” Karzai said. “Can someone carry 30 suitcases with them?"

Gilani urged caution, essentially calling it unwise to jump to conclusions based on the information released by WikiLeaks.

“These are just some of the views of junior officers of some of the [embassies] and they are not authentic,” he said. “Therefore we should not even take them seriously."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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