The government and its allies have decided that an expeditious and impartial inquiry would be conducted into a case of financial irregularities involving real-estate magnate Malik Riaz and the chief justice’s son Dr Arsalan Iftikhar.
The ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and its coalition partners met late Saturday night and discussed various issues, including what is now widely known as the Familygate scandal and the prime minister’s conviction in a contempt case.
At the huddle, the coalition partners termed reports of the government’s involvement in the high-profile case baseless and unfounded.
On Friday, the full court of the Supreme Court observed that the Youtube video of off-air clips of a ‘planted’ TV interview of Malik Riaz was indicative of a pre-planned conspiracy against the judiciary.
In a statement after the meeting, presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said the coalition partners called for an ‘expeditious and impartial inquiry’ into the case involving Riaz and Dr Arsalan in accordance with the Supreme Court verdict.
“The meeting appreciated the resolution passed by parliament endorsing the decision of the speaker [of the National Assembly] against sending a reference to the Election Commission of Pakistan under Article 63(2) of the Constitution for the disqualification of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani,” said the statement.
“The speaker represents the dignity of the house,” reads the statement which conveyed the ruling coalition’s message.
The Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have already challenged the speaker’s ruling in the apex court.
On Friday, the Supreme Court questioned whether a convicted person could still be the chief executive of the country even from a prison cell.
Legal experts believe the court was likely to decide the matter next week. And the scenario prompted the ruling coalition to sit together and chalk out a ‘post-judgment strategy’.
Sources said that the meeting, which was co-chaired by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani, discussed all the available options.
In addition to the heads of the coalition parties, Religious Affairs Minister Khursheed Shah and Law Minister Farooq H Naek were also in attendance.
Sources in the PPP told The Express Tribune that the leadership has directed its parliamentarians to ensure their presence in the capital during the coming few days in order to deal with any decision against the government.
It is because of the apex court hearing that the government has decided to send Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar instead of PM Gilani to a conference in Brazil. And it is because of this case that the government has wrapped up the budget session of the National Assembly which was supposed to end on June 21.
While discussing the post-verdict scenario, two options were examined by the participants of the meeting. According to the first option, the allied partners discussed an alternate candidate and their ability to elect him if PM Gilani is disqualified. Any differences within the ruling coalition in this regard were asked to be addressed.
The meeting was attended by leaders of PML-Q, MQM, ANP and members from FATA.
(with additional reporting by QAMAR ZAMAN)
Published In The Express Tribune, June 17th, 2012.
More in PakistanOff-air leak a ‘big conspiracy’, says Riaz’s counsel