The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Friday dismissed the intra court appeal filed by Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani against the Apex Court's February 2 order asking him to appear before it on February 13 to be formally charged with contempt.
The eight-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, passed the order after a marathon argument by the premier's counsel Aitzaz Ahsan that stretched over two days. Mr. Ahsan had been given time till 10-30 a.m. to wrap up his submission which was punctuated with frequent observations from the bench.
During this morning's hearing also, the Court once again asked the counsel to get the government to write a letter to the Swiss authorities to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. Write the letter and the contempt charges will be dropped, was the repeated directive from the Court which also pointed out that it had shown immense patience in the matter.
As the government refused to budge from its stated position that the letter could not be written because the Constitution provided presidential immunity to Mr. Zardari, the Court then passed its order; pointing out that the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) - on the basis of which the cases against him inside the country and overseas were dropped - had not been passed by Parliament.
After the order was passed, Mr. Ahsan told reporters that the Prime Minister would appear before the Court on February 13. Even before filing the intra court appeal on Wednesday, the Prime Minister had announced that he would appear before the Court as summoned. Contempt proceedings were launched against the premier in January because the government had repeatedly ignored the Court's directive to reopen cases against the President after striking down the NRO.