New Delhi: Soon after becoming the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the Supreme Court has asked Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to respond by July 12 regarding the orders to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk reminded Attorney General Irfan Qadir that former Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani had been convicted for contempt and sentenced for refusing to act on the Apex Court's orders to revive the corruption cases.
The bench said in a brief order that it expected the new Premier would act on the court's directives. The judges asked the Attorney General to consult the Prime Minister and inform the court of his stance at the next hearing on July 12.

Earlier, the former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was on June 19 disqualified by the Apex Court for "ceasing" to be in office since April 26 when he was convicted and sentenced for contempt.

Gilani was convicted for contempt of court for refusing to ask Switzerland to reopen multimillion dollar graft charges against President Asif Ali Zardari.  Gilani had contended that the government could not act as the President enjoyed immunity in Pakistan and abroad.

Shortly after assuming office, Ashraf said on Sunday that the PPP had made it clear that it would not write a letter to Swiss authorities to reopen the cases against Zardari.
He said there was no difference between him and Gilani on this issue. Ashraf had further said that his government did not want any confrontation with other state institutions and would work in accordance with the Constitution and the law.

The judiciary and the government have been engaged in a standoff since December 2009, when the Apex Court annulled a graft amnesty issued by former military ruler Pervaiz Musharraf that benefited Zardari and over 8,000 others.

Since then, the judiciary has been pressuring the government to reopen the corruption cases against the President. The government refused to act, saying the President enjoyed immunity from prosecution in Pakistan and abroad.

Gilani refused to resign even though the Apex Court had said at the time that his conviction could lead to his disqualification.


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