LAHORE: Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf defended President Asif Ali Zardari’s immunity on Satuday, saying it would end the day after he leaves office.
His comments came after the Supreme Court on Wednesday gave the new prime minister two weeks to indicate whether he would write a letter to the Swiss authorities, asking them to reopen corruption cases against the Zardari, the incumbent president.
The issue precipitated in the removal of Ashraf’s predecessor, Yousaf Raza Gilani from office as prime minister on June 19 after the court convicted him for contempt in April, refusing to reopen the multi-million-dollar cases.
“He (Asif Ali Zardari) is the democratically elected President of Pakistan and as per law he enjoys the immunity as long as he holds the office,” Ashraf told reporters in Lahore.
When the new prime minister was asked what the government’s stance would be at the next Supreme Court hearing on July 12, Ashraf reiterated the presidential immunity.
“All the legal experts have given us the same opinion… So we will see the matter from the same angle,” he said.
Analysts say the latest notice by the Supreme Court indicate the judiciary is unwilling to end a showdown with the government that could force elections before the stipulated dates for February 2013, when the administration would become the first in Pakistan to complete a full five-year mandate.