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Pakistan’s Prime Minister Found Guilty of Contempt

Pakistan's Supreme Court convicted Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for contempt of court but did not sentence him to jail time and the premier appeared to remain in power.


The court found that Mr. Gilani had failed to follow an earlier court order to reopen graft investigations into Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari. It sentenced him to a symbolic 30 seconds of detention, which the court said he had already served while attending the hearing Thursday, according to Pakistan government officials.



Mr. Gilani, although hanging on to power for now, is likely to face serious challenges in the months ahead. The Election Commission of Pakistan could strike him off as a member of the National Assembly after the conviction, but the process is likely to take months.


The ruling comes amid a power struggle between the executive and judicial branches of Pakistan's government that dates to 2008, when Mr. Zardari came to power through democratic elections.


The Supreme Court was instrumental in bringing down the authoritarian military government that preceded Mr. Zardari. Since then, the nation's top judges have continued to take an activist role beyond that of a traditional judiciary, including setting the price of basic commodities.


The nation's lawyers and judges say Pakistan's leaders must be brought to justice for years of corruption. The government says the court's actions are politically motivated.


The Supreme Court two years ago ordered the government to investigate President Zardari on allegations of corruption dating to the 1990s. Lawyers for Mr. Gilani argued he couldn't do so because Pakistan's constitution grants the president immunity from criminal prosecution.

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