Islamabad, (IANS) Pakistan’s constitution provides immunity to the president, said Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Thursday while appearing before the Supreme Court in a contempt of court case.
Gilani, who had been issued a contempt notice for not implementing a directive to act against President Asif Ali Zardari for corruption, said he had spent six years in prison and had never been reluctant to appear before the court that shows that he always respected the court, Geo News reported.
The prime minister, who had been directed to appear personally before the apex court bench Jan 16, said Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Nusrat Bhutto also appeared before the courts.
“I cannot even think of ridiculing the court and all over the world the presidents enjoy immunity and constitution of Pakistan also provides immunity to the president. That is why we did not write to Swiss authorities,” the prime minister was quoted as saying.
The apex court had earlier warned the government of action if its ruling on the amnesty law, which granted immunity to politicians and bureaucrats in corruption cases, was not implemented by Jan 10, 2012.
The court had also sought reopening of cases closed under the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). It had ordered the government to write a letter to the Swiss authorities to reopen cases against the president and set a seven-day deadline.
Zardari, accused of graft, had been granted amnesty under the NRO) which was issued in 2007 by then president Pervez Musharraf to facilitate the return of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and her husband Zardari. The NRO was struck down as void by the Supreme Court in 2009.
Prominent Pakistani lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan is representing Gilani.
Gilani is the second prime minister after Nawaz Sharif to appear before the Supreme Court. On Nov 3, 1997, Nawaz Sharif had been issued a contempt petition by then chief justice Sajjad Ali Shah.
The heads of the coalition partners, including PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, federal Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan, MQM parliamentary leader Dr Farooq Sattar, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khosa, Khyber-Paktunkhwa Governor Masood Kosar, cabinet members and senior Pakistan Peoples Party leaders accompanied Gilani.
The NAB had in 1998 accused Zardari and the late Benazir Bhutto of awarding a pre-shipment inspection contract to the Societe Generale Surveillance (SGS). This was done in return for six percent commission on the total amount the company received from the Pakistan government, it claimed.
Earlier in August 2008, Swiss judicial authorities, acting on the request of the Pakistani government, had closed the money laundering case against Zardari and released $60 million frozen in Swiss accounts.