For now it seems that the Pakistan Peoples Party has decided to respond to the conviction of the premier with “political means” alone and is unlikely to file an appeal against the apex court’s verdict.
However, the final decision regarding filing an appeal in the Supreme Court would be taken by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani himself after he returns from a five-day tour to the United Kingdom, party officials and members of his legal team told The Express Tribune.
“I can’t say anything about the appeal at the moment… Gilani Sahib will decide about it himself,” said Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, the chief defence counsel for the premier in the contempt of court case which declared Gilani guilty last month.
Aitzaz, however, refused to answer when asked what his personal opinion was about filing an appeal. “I’ll give my point of view to the premier, not to media,” stated the lawyer who is also one of the key PPP leaders and a member of the Senate.
About the difference of opinion within the ruling party on the issue, he said the final decision would be taken after reaching a consensus.
This new position of apparent silence was in sharp contradiction of the party’s original plans of immediately filing an appeal once the detailed verdict is out.
However, no reason was given for this change of heart.
At least a couple PPP leaders said the party was not interested in filing the appeal because it thought the decision would not be different than the detailed verdict issued by the Supreme Court earlier in the day.
“We know it will not make any difference,” said one of the officials close to President Asif Ali Zardari. Another confirmed the party’s reservations regarding filing an appeal.
There was, however, no official word by the PPP in response to the detailed verdict by the court in the contempt case. Officials said Zardari had called Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza to reach Islamabad as soon as possible.
Dr Mirza’s role in this episode remains crucial since she is the one who has to decide whether or not to send a reference to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for the disqualification of premier Gilani.
A lawyer in the premier’s defence team claimed that the decision of the speaker regarding the disqualification would be final and could not be challenged in any court.
Insiders said she was likely to announce that the prime minister was immune against any criminal charge under Article 248 (1) of the Constitutional and, therefore, no reference would be sent to the ECP.
There was a hint of this in a statement issued by Fawad Chaudhry, the premier’s special assistant and member of his defence team.
“Detail judgment is prima facie violative of Article 248 (1) of the Constitution under which the prime minister of Pakistan has complete immunity in discharge of its official functions,” said Chaudhry.
He added under Article 62 (2), the decision of the speaker regarding the qualification or disqualification of premier Gilani would be final and could not be called in question in any court.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2012.