Pakistan court rules Gilani is no longer prime minister
The court's decision sent the prime minister and his supporters into emergency sessions to debate how to respond. The news initially prompted fears of street violence, but by day's end, members of the ruling party seemed set to accept the court's decision and turned their attention to finding Gilani's successor.
The Washington Post
Related developmentsQuran burning: A military investigation into Quran-burning at a U.S. base in Afghanistan in February is recommending administrative punishment — the lowest possible reprimand — against as many as seven U.S. service members involved in mishandling the books, two Pentagon officials said. One Navy sailor and up to six Army soldiers are facing low-level punishment for their role in the incident, but none is facing court-martial, the officials said.
Power outages: Thousands of Pakistanis battled with police Tuesday on the third consecutive day of violent protests against widespread power cuts that have plagued the country during the hottest part of the year, police said. Rioting broke out in at least two areas of Punjab where residents often get as little as four hours of electricity a day.
Afghan killings: Twenty-three people have been killed in a spate of violence in southern Afghanistan, including civilians, policemen, insurgents, and a coalition soldier reportedly killed in an attack by Afghan policemen.
Al-Qaida arrest: Pakistani security officials on Wednesday said they had arrested Naamen Meziche, a French man accused of being a prominent al-Qaida militant, on the Iranian border. Western media reports have described Meziche as an al-Qaida operative with links to European jihadi groups.
Seattle Times news services
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The Pakistan Supreme Court's decision on Tuesday to dismiss Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for contempt threw the country's political system into turmoil, creating fresh uncertainty about who will lead a nation central to U.S. efforts to end the war in Afghanistan.
The court's decision sent Gilani and his supporters into emergency sessions to debate how to respond. The news initially prompted fears of street violence or an intervention by the powerful military if Gilani chose to fight for his post. But by day's end, members of the ruling party seemed set to accept the court's decision and turned their attention to finding Gilani's successor.
Pakistan has blocked NATO supplies from passing through its territory into Afghanistan. Pakistan's domestic troubles could distract attention from the Obama administration's attempts to negotiate a reopening of the border and to earn greater Pakistani cooperation in negotiating with the Taliban.
The fragile Pakistani government faces serious economic woes. The country was already due for elections next year in which the ruling Pakistan People's Party will have to defend its record since taking power from strongman Pervez Musharraf in 2008.
Although there was no official word from Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari as of late Tuesday, senior party leaders indicated that they would accept the court's decision and allow Zardari to name a new prime minister and Cabinet. That apparent acquiescence somewhat defused the prospect of an imminent confrontation.
The court's decision called for the election commission to formally strip Gilani of his post, which the commission did Tuesday. In April, the court convicted Gilani of contempt after he refused its demand to reopen a corruption case against Zardari.
By dismissing the premier, the court also effectively dissolved his Cabinet.
With the premier and the Cabinet effectively dismissed, the court's decision called into question whether the decisions made by the government since April 26, when Gilani was convicted, remained valid.
Whoever is picked to become the new prime minister, the Supreme Court would probably pressure that person to restart the probe against Zardari, said analyst Hasan-Askari Rizvi: "The future prime minister will now be in danger from two sides — the army as well as the judiciary."
Zardari and his wife, Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister killed in 2007, were accused of using Swiss bank accounts to launder millions of dollars. The case was set aside when Zardari became president in 2008, but the court demanded that Gilani write to Swiss authorities to reopen the case. Gilani refused, prompting the contempt of court conviction in April.