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Pakistan's ruling coalition faces looming political crisis

01-12-2012 15:20 BJT

ISLAMABAD, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- Pakistani Parliament will meet later Thursday to discuss the fast emerging complex situation in the wake of tension between the government and the judiciary over the "non implementation" of the Supreme Court ruling against an amnesty law.

The apex court struck down the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), a graft amnesty issued by former President Pervez Musharraf that benefited Zardari and over 8,000 others in 2009. Since then, the court has been pressuring the government to write to Swiss authorities to reopen the money laundering cases against Zardari.

The government has so far refused to act on the court's orders, saying the President enjoys immunity from prosecution under the Constitution.

During a TV interview this month, President Zardari made it clear that the government would not approach the Swiss authorities as long as he was in office. He was of the view that top leadership of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has decided not to write to the Swiss authority as it would amount to "trial of Benazir Bhutto", his slain wife, and the two times Prime Minister of Pakistan.

The five-judge bench headed by Justicer Asif Saeed Khosa had earlier set January 10 as the deadline for the government to implement the apex court's order on the NRO.

The situation took a serious turn on Tuesday when the Supreme Court warned disqualification of Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani on failing to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. The apex court had given six days to the government to decided whether or nor it will send a letter to the Swiss authorities for opening of graft case against President Zardari. Sensing gravity of the situation, Prime Minister Gilani hinted Wednesday to submit a reply in the court next week.

The confrontation between the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party ( PPP) and the judiciary over the NRO comes at a time when the Supreme Court is pressuring the government over an alleged memo that had sought U.S. help to stave off a feared military coup in Pakistan last year. Despite the government's objections, the court formed a judicial commission to investigate the Memogate scandal.

The Memogate scandal multiplied problems for the government when the opposition leader and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif urged the Supreme Court to investigate the issue as to why the U.S. help was sought against army.


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