Prime Minister Gilani has finally said ‘No’ to writing a letter to the Swiss authorities asking them to reopen the corruption cases against President Zardari. He took this stand in a written reply submitted to the Supreme Court on Monday on the case of contempt of court charges against him. It must be recalled that he had made this position quite clear in his speeches and interaction with journalists over the past few days. At one point, he had opined that if he were to write the letter in question, he would be violating the Constitution that carried the punishment of a death sentence, but by refusing to do so, he was risking a jail term of a maximum period of six months. The President could not be dragged before a foreign court and called upon the apex court to show restraint. Earlier on Sunday, Mr Gilani offered to resign in case that would settle the issue of writing the letter, warning that the problem would persist with his successor. The matter involved the question of immunity to the President, which, he believed, could only be waived by Parliament, calling it the appropriate constitutional forum for the purpose since for the logical conclusion of the argument, the people were the real judges. They are ‘the rulers and the ablest judges in the country’. In his signed letter to the Supreme Court, he also said that he had made the decision not to write the letter in good faith in the light of immunity enjoyed by the President and saw no justification for a contempt notice to him. “I deemed it necessary to implement upon the summary in pursuance of the Rules of Business. Even if my decision is wrong, the responsibility rests with those who sent it,” Mr Gilani maintained. According to a private TV channel, Mr Gilani called a meeting of the PPP core group on Monday afternoon to discuss, among other things, the 24-page rejoinder his counsel had filed in the court earlier in the day. Reportedly, he showed mistrust of the seven-judge bench of the SC hearing the contempt case, for its ‘pre-calculated approach’ against him.

Commenting upon the Prime Minister’s letter to the court and his utterances, legal experts have rightly termed his approach to the issue ‘frightening’, ‘it has shaken the structure of the Constitution’, ‘the interpretation of the Constitution is the sole preserve of the Supreme Court’, etc. Doubtless, refusal to abide by judicial verdicts would create a situation of anarchy in the country, if Mr Gilani’s example were to be followed on a wide scale in the country. If anything, there is a crying need for the government to exercise restraint, rather than the Prime Minister asking the Supreme Court to do so. If he could only reflect on the calamitous result of his attitude of defiance of the judiciary on the people in general, perhaps he would be better able to appreciate the imperative of obeying the court orders. The blatant disobedience of judicial injunctions has already exposed Pakistan worldwide ridicule. It is time to retrieve the situation.