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Court 'sentences' Gilani for contempt

Prime minister avoids jail term, but observers say the crisis has not yet passed

ucanews.com reporter, Lahore
Pakistan

April 26, 2012

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The Supreme Court today convicted Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani of contempt and handed him a symbolic sentence 30 seconds’ detention for failing to follow its order to reopen a corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari. The sentence was symbolic, but observers say the decision could throw Gilani’s leadership into question and add further strain on a judiciary already the target of mounting criticism. Peter Jacob, executive secretary of the Justice and Peace Commission at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan, said the sentence was “mild” but nonetheless significant. “People were fearing a worse situation if he was sent to jail. Still, a crisis has been born.” Gilani, the country’s longest-serving premier, was summoned twice this year by the court for failing to reopen an investigation into charges of money laundering by Swiss authorities against Zardari. “The decision may also affect the credibility of the Supreme Court, which should intervene much less [than it does] in political issues. Only the political process can improve such [problems],” Jacob said. But Fr Joseph Louis, executive secretary of Caritas Pakistan in Lahore, blamed Gilani for putting his party above the country. “We are left [living] hand to mouth because of corrupt leaders. There is no electricity or gas, and many government institutions have collapsed,” Fr Louis said. “The prime minister should resign on moral grounds, or else the crises in the country will continue.”
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