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Pakistani PM refuses to open graft cases against President

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, March 19, IRNA -- Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani was adamant on Monday not to accept repeated orders by the country’s top court for reopening of graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

The Supreme Court has issued several orders to the Prime Minister to write to Swiss authorities for reopening of cases there.

But Prime Minister Gilani and his ruling Pakistan Peoples Party have refused to write to the Swiss authorities, arguing that the President enjoys immunity inside and outside the country under the constitution as head of state.

The apex court has already formally indicted the Prime Minister for contempt of court and legal experts are of the view if convicted the Prime Minister may face a six-month prison, lose his parliamentary seat and disqualification for five-year for holding any public office.

The Prime Minister Monday submitted a written reply in the Supreme Court, reiterating his earlier stand not to write to the Swiss authorities to re-open graft cases against the President.

Gilani asserted that the President of the State cannot be thrown before any foreign magistrate.

The Prime Minister, in his 24-page rejoinder, prayed the court to refer the issue of writing a letter to Swiss cases to the parliament.

“I advise the court to show patience and let the people of Pakistan to decide the matter,” the reply said.

Gilani told the court, 'How could President of Pakistan be sent before a foreign country magistrate?' Referring to one of the court’s own options that the matter could be sent to the parliament.

The Prime Minister personally appeared before the Supreme Court twice but has not budged his stand.

He told public rallies last week and declared that he would not accept the court order as it would be ‘violation’ of the constitution, which he said carries the death penalty.

“I would prefer six-month jail sentence and even disqualification,” Gilani had told rallies in Punjab Province.

The country's anti-corruption department says that nearly 60 million US dollars have been shifted to Swiss banks and must be brought back.

The opposition claims that the money belonged to President Zardari and his slin wife Benazir Bhutto.

The ruling party says all the cases are politically-motivated and had been registered when its rivals were ruling the country.

Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 80046365

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