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Zardari graft case: Pak PM advised by aides not to appear in SC

Zardari graft case: Pak PM advised by aides not to appear in SC

Lahore: Pakistan Premier Raja Pervez Ashraf has been advised by his aides not to appear in the Supreme Court in response to a notice summoning him for failing to act on its orders to revive graft cases against the President.

The ruling PPP believes that Ashraf's appearance in the Supreme Court will make no difference and that he is unlikely to get any relief from the judges who on Wednesday issued the notice to the Premier and directed him to personally appear on August 27, Ashraf's aides said on Thursday.

"The Premier is not a section officer that he can be summoned by the apex court every now and then. Seeing the judges' mood, we advised the Prime Minister not to appear before the apex court and to raise the dignity of Parliament," said Fawad Chaudhry, the Prime Minister's special assistant on political affairs.

Chaudhry said the Premier should save Parliament from being further ridiculed by the judiciary.

"Like the judiciary, the Parliament will protect its rights as well," he said.

The apex court on Wednesday issued a show cause notice to Ashraf on a contempt of court charge for not acting on its repeated orders to reopen graft cases in Switzerland against President Asif Ali Zardari.

Legal experts have said Ashraf faces the possibility of being dismissed like his predecessor Yousuf Raza Gilani.

The government has refused to act against Zardari, saying the President enjoys immunity within Pakistan and abroad.

Chaudhry said the Supreme Court's registrar had not bothered to appear before Parliament's Public Accounts Committee and, therefore, the representative of 180 million Pakistanis should not be expected to appear before the apex court in a case in which the President had immunity under the Constitution.

There is consensus "among all tiers of the PPP that enough is enough" and Ashraf should be ready to go home without being "too obedient" to the court, party insiders said.

They were of the view that Ashraf's fate will not be different from that of Gilani, who was disqualified after he refused to approach Swiss authorities regarding the cases against the President.

Parliamentarian Abdul Qadir Gilani, the elder son of former premier Gilani, said it would make no difference whether Ashraf appears in court as the judges are expected to issue a ruling against him because he is a PPP leader.

"Whether it is a small or a big case against a PPP man, everyone knows that the decision will come against him," Abdul Qadir said.

He said his father appeared thrice in the Supreme Court but the judges did not care and disqualified him.

President Zardari's coordinator in Punjab province, Navid Chaudhry, said the time had come for "judicial restraint" to be observed for the people's sake.

"This judicial activism will lead us to more problems," he said.

Navid Chaudhry said the PPP-led government had accepted the Supreme Court's decision to disqualify Gilani, but in Ashraf's case, the court's order appeared to be influenced by political reasons.

"The whole world is laughing at us for making a non-issue a big issue," he said.

If Ashraf meets the same fate as Gilani, it would be another black day in the history of Pakistan, he added.


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