Pakistan's Supreme Court has indicted Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for contempt of court.
Gilani is accused of refusing for two years to re-open graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari dating back to the 1990s.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Naveed Ahmad, defense and diplomacy analyst, to further discuss the issue.
The following is a transcription of the interview.
Press TV: First of all, let's talk about this court hearing. Tell us more about what Prime Minister [Yousuf Raza] Gilani is being indicted for and what the outcome is likely to be? Is this the beginning of the end for Gilani as prime minister?
Ahmad: This is all going back to the history of the pre-Musharraf era when cases were filed against the Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, his wife, Benazir Bhutto, and his mother-in-law Mrs. Nusrat Bhutto who both of them have died. These were corruption cases. The process was continuing and [Pervez] Musharraf took over.
And after that, the investigation carried on, and Swiss courts really carried on the proceedings against both Asif Ali Zardari and his wife, Benazir Bhutto, who was twice prime minister of Pakistan.
Both were on the run. Zardari was in Pakistan’s jail and then he was let free on part of a deal called National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) that was agreed between Benazir Bhutto and General Pervez Musharraf.
After the new government took over and Chief Justice Iftikhar was installed, he started proceedings on General Musharraf’s time. And after he was sacked and revived, he assumed those hearings.
As part of the verdict that was announced at that time, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari and all those people who involved and named in those cases have not only to face punishment but also to bring back the money that was, now that we know, “has been taken out of Pakistan, in Switzerland and other countries.” So this has been the background.
Now what’s going on, since the court gave a verdict a couple of years ago, the government has been dilly-dallying and they were not really trying to implement it.
The Gilani government always came up with excuses. And the best excuse was that President Asif Ali Zardari, who was not the president when these cases were filed and this was announced, is having presidential immunity, diplomatic immunity, internationally, and he cannot be charged with any kind of corruption cases that he was allegedly involved in the past.
But the government never went to the courts and never took this matter up with the courts that, yes, these cases are against him, but this man - even if he was a criminal, if he was involved - he has immunity.
And the question of immunity was never placed before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court assumed the government does not want to bring it because the court’s decision has to be implemented.
And now the contempt that has been filed and the proceedings that are in the final stages also refers to that lack of commitment on the part of the executive to fill the position of the judiciary which was binding. And all appeals have been turned down.
Mr. Gilani insists on his own, without any judicial or constitutional interpretation of any law, because this is a unique case in Pakistan’s history that a president has been indicted and has been named for corruption, and there’s a judicial verdict against him for his past actions.
Now Mr. Gilani has to face the music for, one, not implementing the Supreme Court’s verdict; and secondly, then, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari has to face the music when the new prime minister or whosoever follows him up would like the Swiss courts to resume the cases and provide us with all the details, and all the money that was provided to this person should be brought back because this was not a legitimate claim of money of that individual.
Press TV: Mr. Ahmad, Asif Ali Zardari himself has claimed that the graft charges brought against him are politically motivated? How much is the rift between the government and the military of Pakistan driving this current stand off? The judiciary is widely seen as being backed by the military, isn’t it?
Ahmad: No, that’s not the case. The problem is that in Pakistan or in any developing country, per se, politicians always want to keep the upper hand. And in this case, as well, Pakistani politicians and block, minus one or two individuals who are upcoming opposition leaders, everybody has a unanimous view that the judiciary is not independent and assertive. And that is a question that everybody agrees upon for the answer.
All the allies of Mr. Asif Ali Zardari and, of course, the opposition leader Mr. Nawaz Sharif, don’t like the Supreme Court to be so strong that wherever the government falters, and there are cases of corruption in ministers and sitting officials, the Supreme Court should intervene and show transparency and accountability. And that is why we don’t hear much from them.
As far as the military is concerned, the military is backing the judiciary; also the military is also facing so many cases against its officials, intelligence officials and others, in the Supreme Court. The military is not immune to the verdicts of the Supreme Court. Whether they implement it or not, that’s a separate situation.
But having this argument from the government’s side or the oppositions’ side or the politicians, the judiciary is trying to work with the military to change the system is totally absurd.
The decision was made on merit, and the Supreme Court has been extra cautious in keeping the distance between the political rhetoric out there - and the executive and legal questions that were raised in the legal petitions that were brought in front of it. There is no question of that.
What I see in the Supreme Court today, court room number one, I was there, that all the politicians ganging up against the Supreme Court trying to ensure and tell them that, look, we are all together against you and we don’t want to give you the authority to judge our executive actions on the basis of corruption or, you know, favoritism or anything; that you have to do your justice in the manner that people want traditionally, and we don’t like for you to take this step.
On the other side, the Supreme Court continued to exercise restraint and people are getting upset on the Supreme Court that it should make a decision. Now, the Supreme Court is against a wall whether Mr. Gilani is put behind bars and a new one comes in that would he write the letter?...What is the credibility of the Supreme Court of Pakistan?