Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani appeared in the Supreme Court on Monday to face formal charges over his failure to accept the apex court's orders to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

The Supreme Court has issued repeated orders to the government to write to the Swiss authorities to revive cases of alleged money laundering against the President in Switzerland.

Gilani said on Sunday again defended his decision not to write to Swiss officials as he said that the President enjoys immunity in Pakistan and abroad as head of state. He also said that all cases against President Zardari are politically-motivated.

It is the second time in nearly a month that the Prime Minister Gilani appeared before the Supreme Court in contempt proceedings. He last personally appeared in the court when it took up the contempt case on Jan. 19.

The Prime Minister drove his car himself and waved to police and the media as he entered the building.

The authorities have declared a security alert in areas near the Supreme Court and closed several roads leading to the building. Paramilitary troops were also deployed to help the police maintain security in the vicinity.

A team of bomb disposal searched the court building early in the morning, officials said. All the visitors passed through special "walk-through" gates. Special passes had been issued to the visitors and no entry was allowed without passes. The security of the Prime Minister office also arrived at the building to review the arrangement.

Only the car of the Prime Minister was allowed to enter the building and others cars were diverted to parking outside the building.

Officials of the main secret service, the Inter-Services Intelligence, Intelligence Bureau and Special Branch of the police were also deployed and were monitoring the security situation through CCTV cameras.

Several ministers, political leaders of the ruling coalition and lawmakers were also present in the Supreme Court to show solidarity with the beleaguered Prime Minister.

The paramilitary soldiers and anti-terror police squads are carrying out foot and mobile patrolling near the Supreme Court building.

Defence lawyer for the Prime Minister told reporters in the premises of the court that he will argue the innocence of his client before the apex court.

Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan said that the apex court will determine how to conduct the special contempt proceedings and the court will first ask the Prime Minister about his stand. The Court will ask the Prime Minister if he wants to make any statement.

Several senior leaders of the coalition parties spoke to reporters and reiterated support to the Prime Minister whose fate depends on the court's verdict.

Information Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan told reporters that the Prime Minister will follow the constitution whatever the court decides. She also defended the government's decision not to write letter to the Swiss officials for reopening of graft cases against the President.