In the face of mounting pressure from the Supreme Court for reopening of graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari in Switzerland, Pakistan Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani has said Parliament has the authority to determine the immunity available to the head of state.
The apex court on Friday had summoned Law Minister Babar Awan, a close aide of Zardari, to appear before it on May 25 to explain why the government had not implemented its verdict scrapping a graft amnesty that benefited the President.
The court has been pressing the government to contact Swiss authorities to reopen money laundering cases against Zardari since it annulled the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), a graft amnesty promulgated by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.
However, Gilani told a group of journalists on Friday that Parliament has the "authority to determine immunity available to the head of state and others."
Protection provided in the Constitution is hindering action against Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa Governor Owais Ghani for his alleged role in the killing of Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti, Gilani added.
The government has complied with all orders issued by the Supreme Court in connection with the scrapping of the NRO except one relating to Zardari, Gilani said.
Even in the case of this order, the government is not refusing to obey it and has sought the opinion of the incumbent and former Attorney Generals on the issue, he said.
The opinion of the serving and former law officials will be produced in the apex court if needed, Gilani said.
Asked about a possible clash between the executive and judiciary, Gilani rejected the impression and assured that it would not occur as the role of all institutions has been determined by the Constitution.
"No institution would like to violate any other's jurisdiction and everyone would work sensibly," he said.
He recalled that on a number of occasions when there were apprehensions about a showdown, the issue was resolved by him through collective wisdom.
"We all are working for the national interest and for the betterment of the people. We are out to strengthen the system and, in this spirit, all issues would be resolved," he said.
Gilani said he knocked on the doors of Parliament whenever a contentious issue surfaced.
Zardari's aides have said that the President enjoys immunity from prosecution and Law Minister Awan has even said that Swiss authorities would be contacted over his "dead body" to reopen the cases against Zardari.