PPP exploring various options

The Supreme Court of Pakistan.—File Photo

ISLAMABAD: With the Supreme Court likely to conclude its hearing of petitions challenging the National Assembly Speaker’s ruling in favour of the prime minister on Tuesday, the ruling People’s Party is busy exploring options to deal with any eventuality.

A source in the party told Dawn that over the last couple of weeks, the leadership has been deliberating on its response to the Supreme Court’s ruling.

The PPP official said that in case the apex court straightway directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to de-notify Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani as member of the National Assembly following his conviction in the contempt case, “we will definitely be in a bind”.

In that case, the party will have no other option but to go for Mr Gilani’s replacement, said the source. “This will be the worst possible outcome that the party is bracing itself for at the moment.”

On the other hand, the source went on, if the court asked the ECP to review Mr Gilani’s membership in the light of his conviction, the prime minister would keep his membership of the National Assembly and contest his case before the election commission.

Under the Constitution, the Election Commission will have 90 days to decide the premier’s fate. If it rules against the prime minister, he can again challenge this decision in the Supreme Court, buying time for his party.

A federal minister told Dawn that during a recent meeting, the ruling coalition also debated the option of calling early elections in case the SC overturned the Speaker’s ruling. A lot depends upon wording of the court order, added the minister.

However, the minister said: “After the passage of a couple of parliamentary resolutions in favour of Prime Minister Gilani and the Speaker’s ruling, the party leadership is confident that it can tackle any development.”

Last but not least, all coalition partners have assured the People’s Party of their support in its hour of trial, he claimed.

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, had taken up multiple petitions challenging the ruling of Speaker Fehmida Mirza last month in which she had refused to forward a reference to the Election Commission for the prime minister’s disqualification.

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