By Sharon Behn
Pakistan’s Supreme Court has ousted Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani from office, throwing the country into political uncertainty.
President Asif Ali Zardari was meeting with the leadership of the ruling People’s Party and coalition partners to discuss the way forward. Former law minister S.M. Zafar says a political crisis can be avoided if the President and parliament move quickly.
“The solution is easy, which is that the present government has a very good majority in the national assembly and they can elect a new prime minister probably by tomorrow. If they do that, the vacuum or the void that has happened on account of no prime minister being available at this moment in the country will be easily solved. But if they don’t do that, then suddenly there is a difficulty in the situation,” Zafar said.
The Court based its decision on an earlier ruling that found Gilani in contempt of court when he refused to open a corruption investigation against President Zardari.
The prime minister had refused to step down despite the April ruling. Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision came after opposition political parties filed a petition against him.
Lawyer Hamid Kahn, of the opposition party PTI, confirmed the next step would be a parliamentary vote for a new prime minister.
“The president has been directed to act according to the constitution by taking further steps under the constitution, naturally for the election of a new prime minister,” Kahn said.
Khan quoted the Supreme Court as saying that Gilani had ceased to be prime minister on the date of his original conviction on April 26.
The political upheaval is hitting a government already struggling with a weak economy and violent protests against crippling energy blackouts. Gilani has suggested the legal actions against him have been politically motivated.