Supreme Court declares contempt law unconstitutional
The tussle between the judiciary and the government continued in Pakistan yesterday when the Supreme Court declared a new contempt law, designed to protect politicians from contempt trials, as unconstitutional. They also gave new Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf until 8th August to write a letter to authorities in Switzerland asking them to reopen a corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari.
Former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was convicted of contempt of court earlier this year because he refused to send the letter to the Swiss authorities and as a consequence was stripped of his position.
The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) led coalition responded by electing Raja Pervez Ashraf as prime minister and then put in place the contempt law which would protect the prime minister. But it seems as though the Supreme Court is intent on challenging the government and has threatened to dismiss the current prime minister if he does not comply with their wishes.
Last night members of the PPP led coalition government met and discussed their response to the Supreme Court. Local newspapers are reporting that the prime minister will not write the letter to the Swiss authorities and if necessary they would ‘sacrifice’ another prime minister. The meeting is believed to have decided that President Zardari holds immunity under Article 248 of the Constitution.