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LAHORE: Former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani who on Wednesday (today) again becomes eligible for contesting election after undergoing a five-year disqualification, may file an appeal in the court to get the ‘stigma’ of conviction removed.

“Finally my disqualification period ends on Wednesday (today). Now my party leadership will decide whether I should contest next general election or not,” Mr Gilani told Dawn here on Tuesday.

Mr Gilani was disqualified for holding a seat in the parliament from the date of his conviction (April 26, 2012) by a Supreme Court bench headed by Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry over contempt of court on June 19, 2012. He was convicted till rising of the court. The PPP government had not filed an appeal against the conviction.

“I sacrificed my position but I averted clash between institutions. I feel proud for protecting the Constitution. Now I am consulting with my legal team regarding filing a review (petition) against the apex court’s verdict,” the former premier said.

When asked why he was considering challenging his conviction after completion of his disqualification period, Mr Gilani said: “My stance of not writing a letter (to the Swiss authorities against then president Asif Ali Zardari to reopen a graft case against him) had been vindicated when the apex court directed then premier Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to find a way out of the impasse between the executive and the judiciary (over the letter issue).”

Mr Gilani said like the PPP had filed a reference against the verdict in Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s case (to cleanse the history of the judiciary) “I am also approaching the court for the same purpose”.

The PPP had accused Iftikhar Chaudhry of running a parallel government during his tenure as chief justice of Pakistan.

Mr Gilani said he as well as his party had always respected the judiciary. “As I was disqualified, my son Abdul Qadir Gilani won by-poll on a provincial seat and subsequently my other son Ali Musa Gilani won from the National Assembly constituency of Multan vacated after my disqualification. That was the people’s verdict. However, about my contesting the next election the party leadership -- Asif Ali Zaradri and Bilawal Bhutto -- will have final say,” he said.

Mr Gilani is concerned about the current political situation. “I feel very bad about the current political situation. As politicians are losing respect there has been political and economic turmoil in the country. Economic instability hurts the national security,” he concluded.

Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2017