The Supreme Court of Pakistan has issued a detailed verdict on the contempt of court case against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, stirring fresh debate and an array of speculation.
In yet another example of what the analysts consider a standoff between the civilian government and the judiciary in Pakistan, the contempt of court proceedings against Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani came to an end on April 26, 2012. The seven-member bench of the apex court ruled that the prime minister was guilty of contempt of court. "For reasons to be recorded later, the prime minister is found guilty of contempt for wilfully flouting the direction of the Supreme Court," said Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk while reading the verdict.
The Supreme Court took action against Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani when he refused to ask Swiss authorities to reopen a money laundering case against President Asif Ali Zardari.
Latest developments pave way for speculation
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court released its much-awaited detailed verdict but it failed to answer the most important political question of the day: should the prime minister be disqualified? The Supreme Court's April 26 order and the symbolic 37-second punishment sparked debate and widespread confusion - the judges mentioned the possibility of Article 63-1g going into effect, which would automatically and instantly disqualify Gilani as the prime minister of Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gilani has responded by saying he would not be forced into leaving office through unconstitutional means. "I have no desire to stick to power, but I will take it to finality and exhaust all avenues," said Gilani on Tuesday.
All these developments followed by several high level meetings in the capital city, Islamabad, have lead to widespread speculation about the PM's future.
As always, bloggers across Pakistan were quick to give their verdict.
In a blog titled "Time is up, Mr. Gilani," Aamir Saeed says he is of the opinion that the entire situation with respect to the apex court's verdict is a shameful one for an elected prime minister and a thought provoking one for the nation. He writes, "If Gilani has got even a shred of self respect, he should step down from his position." He also gives voice to a much-asked question: what would be fate of a nation whose chief executive has become a convicted criminal?
In another blog titled "PTI & PML-N: Saviours of justice or a national joke?" written for The Express Tribune, Aamir Saeed also criticizes Pakistan's leading opposition party, the Pakistn Mulsim League (Nawaz) and Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf. Saeed. He writes that Gilani's contempt of court case is being used by both opposition parties to rally support for the upcoming general elections: "The PML-N and the PTI are politicising the judiciary by organising rallies."
Meanwhile, another blogger, Furkan Ali, writing for the online edition of The Express Tribune - a local affiliate in Pakistan of the The International Herald Tribune - was not pleased with the court's verdict. His opinion is, once a verdict is announced, a convict should be handcuffed and hauled off by a team of officers. Gilani's, however, was carried off into safety by his colleagues. Ali writes, "A clash that fizzled out in around 30 seconds was a huge disappointment. Shameless conspiracy. Or an unexpected triumph … depending on where you stand."
The case has attracted international attention as well. Following it carefully is neighbouring India. Blogger Anita Joshua wrote a piece for the Indian daily The Hindu titled, "Convicted yet free, Gilani survives to fight another day." Referring to the 37-second punishment levied upon Gilani, Joshua writes that the Supreme Court in fact upheld the "broader commitment to the continuity of the democratic process and in doing so has prevailed over the institutional battles."
Dr. Khizir Hayat Tahir, writing for a blog website "Phool aur Kankar" (Flowers and Rocks) brings up the question of utmost importance now - not only for Pakistan, but internationally: "The question now is whether he will be disqualified from office." The blogger believes that the political stability of Pakistan will be jeopardized should Article 63-1g be upheld and the PM removed from office. Legal experts say that the process of disqualifying Gilani could be a lengthy one.
Author: Aasim Saleem
Editor: Sarah Berning