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Pakistan’s high court rejects bid by premier

Pakistan-unrest-politics,ANALYSIS by Nasir Jaffry (FILES) Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani (C) arrives at the Supreme Court in Islamabad on January 19, 2012. Pakistan's government has won temporary respite in its bid to cling onto office but early polls are inevitable as the army and judiciary plot to bring down the unpopular president, analysts say. AFP PHOTO / AAMIR QURESHI (Photo credit should read AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)
Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistan’s Supreme Court yesterday rejected a last-ditch appeal by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani of an imminent contempt charge, prompting fears of further political instability in the strategically vital country.

An eight-judge panel of the high court, expressing exasperation, said the prime minister must appear Monday to be indicted for contempt over his refusal to obey an earlier court order to reopen old corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. For two years, Gilani has asserted the president has absolute constitutional immunity.

The charge carries penalties of six months in jail and possible disqualification from office.

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The judges upheld the order demanding that Gilani’s government write to Swiss authorities to ask them to revive money-laundering charges involving Zardari that date to the 1990s.

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“The order is found to be strictly in accordance with the law and principles of criminal administration of justice and therefore no interference is called for,’’ the high court’s ruling said.

Zardari says the money-laundering allegations are a politically motivated witchhunt.