Pakistani press at odds over Gilani verdict consequences
- 27 April 2012
- From the section Asia
The conviction of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for contempt of court and the symbolic sentence handed out to him by the Supreme Court prompted some Pakistani dailies to reflect on the history of bad relations between Mr Gilani's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the courts.
However, it was the issue of whether his conviction means that Mr Gilani is automatically barred from office for the next five years that really divided press opinion. And it was left to two English-language papers to remind readers that the prime minister can still appeal against the verdict.
The carefully crafted verdict is perhaps indicative of the court's desire to punish the prime minister without actually upsetting the democracy applecart... the Supreme Court's new-found independence and power is a mixed blessing... there are many people - and not all are members of the PPP - who believe that the honourable court is perhaps unfairly targeting the party.
The hollow expression of respect for the judiciary by the prime minister and others in the party hierarchy had been well known.
The People's Party is right in saying that it has always struggled for its defence in courts. Even today, we hope it will approach the court instead of politicising the issue.
Even now, there is time for the government to mend its ways and spend its energies on the well-being of the people instead of wasting them on political wrangling.
The primary responsibility falls on the ruling party and its coalition partners to resolve the confrontation among the institutions.
It seems that the bench would rather see the parliamentary process for the PM's removal kicked into play... You may have walked out of the court a 'free' man, Mr Prime Minister, but you left behind an uglier, much much sadder Pakistan.
The decision has astonished the entire nation as a prime minister has been convicted for the first time ever in the history of the country.
[The verdict] implies that he will continue to act as the PM, albeit a lame duck one, for a minimum of five months required for the disposal of his appeal... The PM can, meanwhile, get the budget through and provide guidance in the ongoing Pak-US talks.
A ruling that added more chaos than clarity to an already messy and murky scenario... In the end, the court has chosen to open the door to the disqualification process but stopped short of dragging the prime minister through the door itself.
If Article 63(1)(g) is applicable, the normal disqualification process that could take up to four months becomes irrelevant. The short order seems to suggest automatic disqualification.
The prime minister has been disqualified for five years under Article 63(1)(g) of the constitution. It is an unprecedented decision in the judicial history of the world that a sitting prime minister has been disqualified in a contempt of court case.
The prime minister has lost the moral high ground. He had already said that he would go home if convicted. The situation can be controlled even now if the parliament brings about a new prime minister.
As far as the lobby wishing to see the back of the PM, not to mention the PPP-led coalition government, is concerned, they may still have some teeth gnashing ahead... The law lays down that any sentence of less than two years does not automatically disqualify a sitting member of the National Assembly and therefore, the PM.
The prime minister certainly has at his disposal a number of options to avail possible relief, including right to appeal.
What the future has in store for the prime minister is, to begin with, leave to appeal against the conviction... If the Supreme Court turns the appeal down, the legal opportunity of review is also there.
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