ISLAMABAD, Jan 16 � Pakistan plunged into a deeper crisis today with the Supreme Court issuing a contempt notice against beleaguered Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for failing to pursue graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari, casting a shadow over his continuance in office, reports PTI.
The court also asked the 59-year-old Gilani, who is already in confrontation with the powerful military over the memo scandal, to appear before it in person on January 19 to explain why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against him for deliberately disregarding the court�s orders.
The order was issued by a seven-judge bench led by Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk that began hearing the case related to the apex court�s orders for reopening high-profile graft cases against Zardari and over 8,000 others.
Shortly after the court�s order, Gilani held a meeting of the ruling PPP-led coalition which was also attended by Zardari and took stock of the situation arising out of the court�s direction.
There were unconfirmed reports that Gilani had offered to resign during the meeting, saying that he wanted to take the step if this would strengthen the government and parliament.
�We respect the court and its verdict,� said PPP leader Faratullah Babar, adding an apporopriate response would be formulated after consulting legal experts.
At the meeting of coalition partners, Giliani was advised to appear before the apex court and present the views of the ruling alliance. The meeting was attended by alliance partners, PML-Q, Awami National Party and MQM.
The allies assured the PPP that they will fully back the resolution expressing confidence in the government to be taken up in parliament.
The resolution was introduced last week in the backdrop of the simmering row between the government and the powerful military over the memo scandal that had sought US help the avert a military coup in Pakistan after the killing of Osama bin Laden in May last year.
Gilani also held a separate meeting with the President.
Law Minister Maula Bux Chandio told reporters that the issuance of the contempt notice by the Supreme Court to Gilani was not an ordinary matter.