Pakistan PM convicted of contempt, receives no jail time
By Mahawish Rezvi and Qasim Nauman
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan's Supreme Court on Thursday found Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani guilty of contempt of court for refusing to reopen corruption cases against the president, but gave him only a symbolic sentence of a few minutes' detention in the courtroom.
It was unclear if the token sentence would ease political tension in Pakistan, where the president and prime minister have jousted with the military and judiciary over the past year.
However, opposition leader Nawaz Sharif immediately demanded Gilani's resignation and some lawyers said the ruling automatically disqualified him from holding the post of prime minister.
"What they've done is taken it from the legal arena and chucked it into the political arena," said Cyril Almeida, a prominent columnist for the Dawn daily newspaper.
"There will be massive pressure from the opposition, the media, from civil society, saying 'He's been convicted for flouting the letter of the law and he should go home,'" Almeida said. "There will be a lot of pressure for him to resign."
Gilani's lawyer, Aitzaz Ahsan, said the prime minister would appeal against the ruling, which means uncertainty over his fate could drag on for months.
Gilani is the first serving prime minister in Pakistan's history to be convicted by a court, but his sentence - detention lasting just a few minutes until the session was adjourned - was symbolic. He could have faced up to six months in jail and the loss of office.
MONEY-LAUNDERING CASES Continued...