Courtroom chaos: Pakistan’s Supreme Court sacks Prime Minister Gilani

Flickr/USAID Pakistan

Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, Prime Minister of Pakistan speaking at a photo exhibition "Rebuilding Together: With Dignity and Hope" sponsored by USAID at Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA) in Islamabad.

On Tuesday, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled to disqualify Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani from office for contempt of court, a charge Gilani was convicted of on April 26, 2012. The decision throws Pakistan into legal and political chaos and may have an important impact on Pakistan’s upcoming elections.

The ruling begins with Gilani’s conviction for contempt of court for refusing to pursue corruption charges against President Asif Ali Zardari. Pakistan’s constitution forbids those convicted of contempt from holding a seat in parliament. Following Gilani’s conviction, his case was referred to Fehmida Mirza, the Speaker of the National Assembly (Pakistan’s lower house), to begin disqualification proceedings against Gilani. Mirza, a member of the prime minister’s ruling party, used her prerogative as speaker to not forward the petition on to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)—a necessary next step in the disqualification process.

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