Pakistan's PM to be cited for contempt by Supreme Court
As if Pakistan doesn't have enough trouble with terrorists, an overbearing military, and rampant corruption, now Prime Minister Gilani is going to be cited for contempt by the Supreme Court for refusing to reopen an old corruption investigation into the dealings of President Zardari.
Court supporters say the judges are upholding the rule of law. But government loyalists accuse the chief justice of pursuing a personal vendetta against president, or of acting on behalf of the army to topple the government.
Analysts say Gilani seems willing to sacrifice himself and go to jail for the benefit of his party. But no matter how it ends, the case has distracted the government from dealing with the country's ailing economy and a violent Islamist insurgency.
The political turmoil has been a problem for the United States as well, because it wants Pakistan to focus on repairing troubled relations between the two countries and help negotiate peace with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
"The case has been very destabilizing because it has increased uncertainty, and the government is always worried about its survival," said Pakistani political analyst Hasan-Askari Rizvi. "A government whose performance is poor has become poorer."
The case against Zardari relates to kickbacks he and his late wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, allegedly received from Swiss companies when Bhutto was in power in the 1990s. They were found guilty in absentia in a Swiss court in 2003.
Zardari appealed, but Swiss prosecutors dropped the case after the Pakistani parliament passed an ordinance giving the president and others immunity from old corruption cases that many agreed were politically motivated.
Zardari, whose nickname in Pakistan is "Mr. 10 percent" referring to the kickbacks that have allowed him to buy a villa on the coast in France, is no doubt guilty as sin. But the whole rotten government is on the take, stealing foreign aid and dipping their beaks into almost every contract let in the country.
Putting them in jail is certainly just - but it will also roil the country and make it easier for the Islamists to gain strength. But the Supreme Court has a history of speaking truth to power (they confronted former President Musharraf over his corruption) so it is likely Pakistan will have a new prime minister soon.