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Gilani to quit rather than betray if SC rules against him

Islamabad: Facing immense pressure to reopen graft cases against the President, Pakistan's embattled Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani has decided to quit if an "unfavourable decision" is made by the Supreme Court in the contempt case against him, a media report said today.

Gilani made up his mind after consulting the leadership of the Pakistan People's Party and its allies in the ruling coalition, the Daily Times newspaper quoted its sources in the PPP as saying.

The PPP's leadership decided that Gilani would tender his resignation before the Supreme Court in person if he faced any "situation" in the contempt case.

The PPP's leadership decided that Gilani would tender his resignation before the Supreme Court in person if he faced any "situation" in the contempt case. Reuters

The Premier will tell the court about the government's Constitutional stance on the issue of presidential immunity. Gilani assured the PPP's that he would not take any step that violated his loyalty to the party and its leaders.

The report quoted Gilani as telling PPP leaders that he was a "man of loyalty and prestige," and that he would personally appear in the apex court and offer his resignation for "pre-eminence of the Constitution of Pakistan and continuity of democracy."

The PPP sources said the party's top leadership has decided to accommodate Gilani's son Moosa Ali Gilani in the federal cabinet in an upcoming reshuffle in view of the Premier's sacrifices and loyalty.

The PPP's leadership has taken its allies, especially Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi of the PML-Q, Altaf Hussain of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Asfandyar Wali Khan of the Awami National Party, into
confidence on the Premier's decision, the report said.

All of the PPP's allies consented to the decision to avoid friction with the Supreme Court. At the same time, the PPP's partners backed its decision
not to approach Swiss authorities to reopen cases of alleged money laundering against President Asif Ali Zardari, saying it  would be a violation of the Constitution.

The apex court has been pushing the PPP-led government to revive the cases against Zardari since December 2009, when it annulled the National Reconciliation Ordinance, a graft amnesty issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

The government has refused to act, saying the Constitution gives the President immunity in Pakistan and abroad. Gilani has said he would prefer to be jailed in a contempt case launched against him by the apex court for not reopening the graft cases.

However, the PPP's allies have suggested the ruling party should avoid friction with the apex court, arguing it could provide ammunition to the government's opponents, the report said.

The PPP and its partners expressed their belief in supremacy of Parliament on constitutional issues and asserted that any President would have constitutional immunity and that Parliament was the only forum to address this issue.

They said that since President Zardari had clear immunity under the Constitution, writing a letter to Swiss authorities to reopen the cases would be a violation of the Constitution. The Daily Times further quoted its sources as saying that Zardari was happy with the performance and loyalty of Gilani. Zardari also agreed to adjust the Premier's son in the Cabinet.

Gilani's son was recently elected a member of the National Assembly in bye-polls in Multan on the seat that was vacated by former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

PTI