New Delhi: In a historical verdict, the Pakistan Supreme Court convicted Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday morning in a contempt case and gave him a 30-second symbolic sentence.

Gilani is the first sitting prime minister to be convicted by the Apex Court. The sentencing lasted for barely 30 seconds, a reprieve for the 56-year-old prime minister who could have been jailed for six months.
 
Gilani was convicted for violating Article 63(1) (g) of Pakistan's constitution by a seven-judge bench of the court, headed by Justice Nasirul Mulk.

"For reasons to be recorded later, the Prime Minister is found guilty of contempt for willfully flouting the direction of the Supreme Court," said Justice Nasirul Mulk.

A seven-judge bench headed by Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk had reserved its judgement in the contempt case initiated against Gilani for failing to act on the Apex Court's directives to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

The Supreme Court has been pressuring the government to revive cases of alleged money laundering against Zardari in Switzerland since December 2009, when it struck down a graft amnesty issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.
    
Gilani had refused to act, saying the President enjoys immunity within Pakistan and abroad. He appeared in the Apex Court twice before and decided to fight the case.
Even after he was formally charged with contempt of court on February 13, Gilani insisted that he would rather be jailed than approach the Swiss authorities to reopen the cases against the President.
    
The premier has said throughout the proceedings in the Apex Court that he had done nothing against the government's rules of business.

Accused of graft, Zardari had been granted amnesty under the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) in 2007 by then president Pervez Musharraf to facilitate his return home and, primarily that of his wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

The NRO that granted immunity to politicians and bureaucrats in corruption cases was struck down as void in 2009. The Apex Court warned the government of action if its ruling on the NRO was not implemented by January 10, 2012.

JPN/Agencies