ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday found Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani guilty of contempt of court for refusing to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari, but gave him only a symbolic sentence of a few minutes’ detention in the courtroom.
The following are some key facts explaining the background of the case:
- Gilani was summoned before the Supreme Court on January 19 for failing to take steps to re-open money-laundering proceedings against President Asif Ali Zardari. He was indicted for contempt of court on February 13.
- The civilian-judicial confrontation stems from thousands of cases thrown out in 2007 under an amnesty ordered by former military president Pervez Musharraf, which paved the way for a return to civilian rule.
- Zardari was the decree’s most prominent beneficiary. He became the main target of the court when it voided the measure in 2009 and ordered the government to ask Swiss authorities to restart legal action against him.
- The cases date back to the 1990s, when Zardari had multiple cases of corruption lodged against him, including accusations of money laundering using Swiss accounts. He says all the cases are false and politically motivated.
- Gilani and his advisers have defied the court, citing the president’s constitutional immunity as head of state. The prime minister appealed the court’s decision to charge him with contempt, but that appeal was dismissed in February.