Five days before he is to appear before the Supreme Court to be formally charged with contempt of court, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday filed an appeal against the February 2 order. The Court has posted his appeal for hearing on Thursday.

After filing the appeal, the Prime Minister's lawyer, Aitzaz Ahsan, told reporters that his petition primarily seeks to tell the court that no contempt had been committed by the Premier. Contempt of court proceedings were launched against Mr. Gilani in mid-January because he had repeatedly refused to write to Swiss authorities asking for corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari to be reopened.

In the appeal, Mr. Ahsan has also cited rulings by apex courts of the U.S., U.K., Australia, France and India in similar instances. If held in contempt, the Prime Minister could face loss of office, disqualification from contesting polls for a stipulated period and up to six months of imprisonment.

While exercising his right to appeal, Mr. Gilani has been maintaining that he would appear before the court, adding that there would be no clash between institutions as is being widely speculated. He has already appeared before the court once in this case on January 19 after which he was spared from personal appearances in future hearings till the bench on February 2 found that prima facie he had committed contempt of court as the letter to the Swiss authorities had not been written in the interim period on the premise that Mr. Zardari enjoyed immunity.

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