President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday held emergency talks among top leaders in his main ruling Pakistan People's Party after the Supreme Court disqualified the prime minister from office.
Television footage showed Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Zardari's son, party co-chairman, Bilawal, gathered in the heavily guarded presidency in the capital Islamabad.
Officials were tight-lipped on how the president would respond to the Supreme Court's announcement that followed Gilani's conviction on April 26 for contempt over refusing to reopen corruption cases against Zardari.
"President Zardari is presiding and Prime Minister Gilani is also attending, to assess the situation," a government official told Agence France Presse on condition of anonymity.
The president also summoned heads of coalition parties to the presidency for further talks at 8pm (15:00 GMT), the official added.
The Supreme Court on April 26 convicted Gilani for refusing to ask Swiss authorities to reopen corruption cases against Zardari in a highly politicized case. Under the constitution, anyone convicted of defaming or ridiculing the judiciary is barred from being an MP.
The matter fell first to the speaker of parliament, a member of the main ruling Pakistan People's Party, who on May 24 announced that there was "no question of disqualification".
Gilani subsequently decided not to appeal his conviction in a move interpreted as an effort not to antagonize the court into disqualifying him.
But on Tuesday, the Supreme Court did so anyway.
"Yousuf Raza Gilani is disqualified from membership of parliament from April 26, the date of his conviction. He has also ceased to be the prime minister of Pakistan," said chief justice Iftikhar Muhammed Chaudhry, reading the order.
"The Election Commission shall issue a notice of disqualification and the president is required to take necessary steps to ensure continuation of democratic process," he added.
|Copyright © 2012 Naharnet.com. All Rights Reserved.||http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/43966|