Pakistan’s main anti-corruption watchdog is considering a proposal for filing a case of misuse of authority against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani under which he could face a prison term of 14 years if convicted, even as the Supreme Court temporarily suspended an attorney of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari.
The National Accountability Bureau is considering the filing of a case in connection with the appointment by Gilani of Adnan Khwaja as chairman of the state-run Oil and Gas Development Company even though Khwaja had already been convicted by court, The News reported.
Meanwhile, a day after issuing a show-cause notice to Prime Minister Gilani, an eleven-judge bench of the SC suspended former law minister Babar Awan’s licence for “attempting to ridicule the court”. Awan is a close aide of President Zardari and had resigned from his cabinet post to represent the government in a number of cases.
The bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, asked the federation to appoint another counsel in place of Awan and adjourned the hearing of the Bhutto reference indefinitely. The SC continues to put pressure on the government ahead of the appearance of the prime minister before it on Thursday.
At the same time, in a related development and a curious twist of fate, barrister Aitezaz Ahsan, once a champion for the restoration of Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, agreed to represent the prime minister as he appears before the supreme court on Thursday in a contempt of court case.
Earlier, in previous cases, Aitezaz Ahsan had expressed his inability to appear before the chief justice because of his special relationship with the chief justice. In the present case, Awan was first issued a contempt of court notice by a two-judge bench of the apex court for using inappropriate remarks against the judiciary at a press conference following the December 1 order on formation of a commission to probe into the Memogate scandal. While talking to media, Awan gave an impression that issuance of notice meant little to him.
Former Supreme Court Bar Association president Ali Ahmed Kurd, who was also part of the movement to restore Iftikhar Chaudhry on Tuesday opposed what he called restricting lawyers from speaking out. “If we had taken the contempt law under consideration, we could not have undertaken a struggle against the chief justice appointed by General Musharraf,” Kurd told reporters outside the Supreme Court.
The eleven-judge bench said that it would become very difficult to administer justice if attempts were made to lower the prestige of the apex court in the eyes of the general public.
(With IANS inputs)