|NEW FACE ON THE BLOCK: But how long will Prime Minister Ashraf stay in office?|
Rahimullah Yusufzai reports on the political and legal wrangling that blights Pakistan’s government and the challenges facing fresh elections against a backdrop of terrorist threats, political factions and economic instability.
Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, who replaced his Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) colleague Yusuf Raza Gilani in June after the latter was disqualified and fired from his job by the Supreme Court on contempt of court charges, risks facing the same fate.
Though he obtained a reprieve and an extension of 22 days from the Supreme Court of Pakistan when he appeared before it on August 27 to give evidence about his government’s stance on the same old issue that led to his predecessor Gilani’s removal from the coveted job, he will need to satisfy the five judges led by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa on September 18 if he wants to remain in the Prime Minister’s office.
Earlier on August 8, the Supreme Court had issued Prime Minister Ashraf a contempt of court notice and ordered him to appear in the court on August 27 to explain why his government had refused to revive the graft case against President Asif Ali Zardari despite the apex court’s orders. In fact, the stage for confrontation between the apex court and the executive was set the same day when Attorney General Irfan Qadir, appearing on behalf of the Prime Minister in the case, told the court the government did not intend to write a letter to the Swiss authorities to reopen cases involving corruption and money-laundering against President Zardari.
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