Ahead of his appearance before the Supreme Court on Monday to be charged with contempt, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani remained optimistic maintaining that he may not be imprisoned as is being visualised.
In an interview to Al-Jazeera, Mr. Gilani's reply to a question on whether he was prepared to go back to prison was: “I don't think it will happen as you have visualised.” Asked if he would step down if convicted, the Premier said there would be no need to step down as he would be disqualified to hold the office.
Maintaining that the cases against President Asif Ali Zardari were politically motivated, Mr. Gilani said all these cases had been fought in the courts and the First Citizen had been exonerated. Also, he pointed out that as President, Mr. Zardari enjoyed immunity not just in Pakistan but trans-national.
Given the possibility of the Prime Minister being imprisoned for contempt, there was considerable speculation on who would be asked to step in though there was absolute silence on this front from government quarters.
Though old-timers of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) have reservations about the way Mr. Zardari has sidelined Bhutto clan associates to bring in his own people, they point out that the President has already spent nearly 10 years in prison for these cases. His second daughter Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari tweeted on Sunday evening: “People cry over immunity but forget my father spent 11-and-a-half years in prison without a single conviction. Jails don't scare us. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto and our current democratically elected President and Prime Minister have all been to prison and have fought in every court.''
Meanwhile, a tight security cordon has been placed around the Supreme Court in preparation of the Prime Minister's appearance.
The security arrangements were reviewed by Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Sunday and instructions given to the security organizations to ensure that the general public is not inconvenienced.
In his first appearance in this case on January 19 — on being summoned by the Court for repeatedly ignoring directives to write to Swiss authorities to reopen cases against Mr. Zardari — Mr. Gilani had driven down to the Supreme Court with his lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan besides party workers and Ministers in tow.