ISLAMABAD: A composed and smiling Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani welcomed guests at a lunch he hosted in honour of a royal guest from Thailand on Tuesday, showing no signs of strain due to the ongoing contempt case hearing in the apex court. Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirndhora of Thailand was the guest of honour.
Accompanied by his cabinet colleagues, heads of coalition parties and a group of journalists, Mr Gilani was looking his usual self. At no point and time did he give the impression that his job was on the line; or that an adverse court ruling on contempt charges could send him home.
The Supreme Court will resume on Wednesday (today) hearing of the contempt case after a break of two weeks.
On Monday, the prime minister submitted a reply urging the court to refer the case of president’s immunity to parliament.
Explaining the reason behind Mr Gilani’s composure at a time when the court was about to complete the hearing on his case which may result in loss of his job, a senior federal minister said both the prime minister and PPP Co-Chairman President Asif Ali Zardari had made up their minds to face the worse.
He said that in the first place, according to prime minister’s counsel Aitzaz Ahsan, even in case of conviction, Mr Gilani would not lose his job. Under the Constitution, the minister added, there was a long process before a member of the National Assembly in case of conviction lost his/her membership. Secondly, he said, if the court decided to send him home, the PPP was ready to even accept that as the prime minister had categorically mentioned in his recent statements.
“However, one thing is sure that the present government by its own would not write a letter to the Swiss authorities to reopen graft cases against President Zardari,” the minister said.
A leader of an allied party told Dawn that after having secured majority in the Senate and already into the last year of the current National Assembly, the PPP leadership was really looking pumped up. On the other hand, he said, the Supreme Court had lost crucial time in the case which could have been decided long time ago.
He was of the opinion that a decision of sending the prime minister home at this time would only benefit the PPP because it would once again cry foul. “I personally believe the court will not provide this opportunity to the PPP and let it face people in the next general election.”
If one goes by the reading of a senior bureaucrat present on the occasion, the prime minister in his response to the court had raised many points, including expressing his distrust over the seven-member bench which is hearing his case, has made the job difficult for judges.
It is an open secret now that the prime minister or for that matter PPP is fighting this case both on political and legal grounds and, therefore, in response the court would have to be very careful. “Thus, given the circumstances, I believe the case would linger on,” the federal secretary said.
The lunch was attended by Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza, ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan, MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar, PML-Q leader Riaz Pirzada and federal ministers for interior, finance, foreign affairs and information.