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A register of reports and views from the Pakistan press
EVEN Yousuf Raza Gilani's resignation from the office of Pakistan's prime minister last month hasn't got the judiciary off the PPP-led government's back. With Raja Pervez Ashraf now PM, the court's target has shifted. The Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry is hearing the case of non-compliance with its order to the PM to write to Swiss authorities to reopen corruption cases against Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari.
Daily Times reported on July 13: "After dismissing former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on June 19, the Supreme Court on Thursday ordered Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to indicate by July 25 whether he would write to the Swiss authorities to reopen cases against President Asif Ali Zardari..."
New contempt law
SINCE Gilani has demitted office, there has been buzz that Zardari would enact a law to grant him blanket immunity and his successor assurance that he wouldn't feel the heat from the court on account of the letter. The same day that the court questioned Ashraf, it was reported that a new law to protect senior government functionaries from contempt of court charges came into existence. Daily Times reported: "President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday accorded assent to the Contempt of Court Bill 2012, making it into a law. The law would exempt top government figures like the PM, governors, chief ministers... from contempt proceedings. The president signed the bill, already passed by the National Assembly on July 9 and by the Senate on July 11... The new law overrides the Contempt of Court Act 1976 and repeals the contempt of court ordinances of 2003 and 2004. The bill received strong protest by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and is being challenged in the apex court..." Daily Times reported on July 13: "The newly passed contempt of court law was challenged in the Supreme Court on Thursday. A petition... stated that the new law (clashed) with the articles 204/2-A and 175 of the Constitution. The petition made the federal government a party to the case."
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