It was a beaming Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani who arrived at the supreme court on Thursday morning, on the dot at 9.30am, to present himself before the seven member bench.
Accompanying Gilani was his lawyer and former Supreme Court Bar Association president Aitezaz Ahsan.
In his twenty-minute statement before the court, Gilani said his government has not written to the Swiss authorities to re-open a corruption case against President Asif Zardari because the president enjoyed immunity under the constitution.
Gilani averted any confrontation with the bench. He added that the legal background to why he did not write the letter would be explained by his counsel Aitzaz Ahsan.
Ahsan said that the prime minister was advised by the law ministry not to write a letter against the president. Ahsan added that the Constitution gives immunity to the post of the president and not to Asif Ali Zardari in particular.
When asked why the government has done nothing for so long, Aitezaz Ahsan conceded that the government should have written the letter. He also said that an inquiry can be held against Zardari if he steps down as president.
Ahsan added that he would establish from record that the prime minister acted in a bonafide manner in not writing a letter to the Swiss authorities.
After this brief legal sparring match, Aitezaz Ahsan requested a month to prepare his case. He was given till February 1 by the court and the PM was exempted from any further appearances. The hearing was then adjourned.
Some quarters commented that the court may have backed down from its earlier confrontational stance.
However, one legal expert said that the “real issue is of the immunity of President Zardari,” and added “this case may well take down Zardari by the time it concludes.”