Piling up pressure on new Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, Pakistan Supreme Court on Wednesday asked him to respond by July 12 to its order to reopen graft cases in Switzerland against President Asif Ali Zardari, an issue that had cost his predecessor his job.
A three-judge bench headed by justice Nasir-ul-Mulk reminded Attorney General Irfan Qadir that former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani had been convicted for contempt and sentenced for refusing to act on the apex court’s orders to revive the corruption cases.
The bench said in a brief order that it expected the new Premier would act on the court’s directives.
The judges asked the Attorney General to consult the Prime Minister and inform the court of his stance at the next hearing on July 12.
Ashraf, a close aide of the ruling PPP chief Zardari, became Prime Minister after Gilani was disqualified by the apex court on June 19 following his conviction for contempt.
Gilani had been convicted and given a symbolic sentence on April 26 after he refused to act on the apex court’s repeated orders to approach Swiss authorities to reopen the corruption cases against Zardari.
Gilani had contended that the government could not act as the President enjoyed immunity in Pakistan and abroad.
Shortly after assuming office, Ashraf said on Sunday that the PPP had made it clear that it would not write a letter to Swiss authorities to reopen the cases against Zardari.
He said there was no difference between him and Gilani on this issue.
Ashraf had further said that his government did not want any confrontation with other state institutions and would work in accordance with the Constitution and the law.
The Supreme Court has been pressuring the government to revive the cases against the President since December 2009, when it annulled an amnesty issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf that had benefited Zardari and over 8,000 others.
The PPP has claimed that the judiciary, especially the chief justice, has not been impartial in cases involving the ruling party and its leaders.
The crusading top judge too has come under a cloud after real estate tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain claimed that he had paid over Rs. 342 million to the chief justice’s son to influence cases in the apex court.