ISLAMABAD – The coalition partners of the ruling PPP reiterated their full support to the government and decided to accompany the prime minister to the Supreme Court as a mark of solidarity.

The decision was taken at a crucial meeting of the coalition, co-chaired by PPP Co-Chairman President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, at Aiwan-e-Sadr Monday night.

The decision came as a five-member bench of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, will resume hearing of contempt proceedings against incumbent the prime minister in the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) implementation case today (Tuesday).

Briefing about the meeting, Spokesperson to the President Senator Farhatullah Babar said current situation with a focus on energy-related issues, floods devastation, law and order situation and coalition matters were discussed during the meeting. Babar said Law Minister Farooq H Naek briefed the meeting on the status of various court cases.

He further said Prime Minister Raja would appear before the Supreme Court today and the coalition partners decided to accompany him to the hearing as a mark of solidarity.  The spokesperson said the coalition partners reiterated their full support to the government.

The prime minister briefed the meeting on the current power situation in the country and the progress on various measures being taken to overcome the power shortage in the country. The meeting was informed that the various immediate steps undertaken by the government had resulted in steady improvement in electricity supply situation and expressed the hope that the power generation would further improve with the rising water levels in reservoirs as a result of recent rains.

The meeting was also updated on the latest floods situation in various parts of the country and the steps taken for the relief and rehabilitation of floods and rain affectees. The meeting expressed sympathies with the victims of floods and torrential rains in the country.

The spokesperson said the meeting condemned the anti-Islam film and called it an act of grave provocation.

Babar said the prime minister also briefed the coalition parties’ leaders about his recent visit to China and bilateral meetings with Chinese leadership and world leaders on the side-lines of World Economic Forum.

Participants of the meeting prayed for the victims of fire incidents in Lahore and Karachi and expressed sympathies with the bereaved families.

The meeting was attended among others by Deputy Prime Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed and Basharat Raja of PML-Q, Asfandyar Wali Khan and Senator Afrasiab Khattak of ANP, Dr Farooq Sattar and Senator Babar Khan Ghauri of MQM, Senator Mir Israrullah Khan Zehri of BNP and Hameedullah Jan Afridi, Munir Khan Orakzai and Senator Abbas Khan Afridi of Fata.

Former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani, Farooq H Naek, Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar, Mehreen Anwar Raja and Spokesperson to the President, Senator Farhatullah Babar were also present during the meeting.

Later, the President also hosted a dinner in the honour of the heads of allied parties.

It is likely that Prime Minister Raja will appear before the apex court along with his counsel Wasim Sajjad, where is expected to request the bench to give further time in the case.

In the last hearing, the court had granted three weeks to the incumbent PM, who requested the bench for four to six weeks to discuss the matter with legal experts and find out a positive result of the matter.

It has been learnt that in view of opposition from senior leaders of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the government’s legal team is still unable to find a way to end a standoff between the judiciary and the executive over writing a letter to Swiss authorities for reopening graft cases against President Zardari.

Unlike former prime minister Gilani’s contempt of court case, the court on August 27 looked flexible as it asked Raja to authorise either Law Minister Naek or the attorney general to resolve the matter regarding the implementation of para 178 of the NRO judgement about reopening of Swiss cases against the president.

A group of senior parliamentarians has opposed any proposal regarding the writing of letter and pressured the government to stick to its stance of not writing the letter on any condition.

Adviser to prime minister on political affairs Fawad Chaudhry has also confirmed that for the time being, the government would continue to stick to the same line taken by Gilani.

“We respect the judiciary but at the same time we have to adhere to the Constitution that bars us from exposing the president to a foreign judicial system.”

As a goodwill gesture, the sources said, the PPP leadership had ordered its leaders not to raise objections on the one-man commission of Dr Shoaib Saddle, which is probing the Dr Arsalan case as it wanted to settle the disputed matters amicably.

Coalition closes ranks to back PM