It’s business as usual for the PM

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Irrespective of what fate holds for him in the contempt court and not even bothered by the possibility of his conviction in the case, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani remains busy with not only handling the government affairs with the same spirit but he also looks forward to embark upon his international visits this month.
Though it cannot be said as to when the seven-member bench will decide the case, it is clear that in case the proceedings do not conclude and the decision is not announced before his forthcoming foreign visits, the case will understandably prolong as the Supreme Court is not likely to take any adverse decision against the chief executive of the country when he is on a foreign tour.
While the prime minister initially appeared quite disturbed, he gradually regained confidence and prepared himself for any eventuality with a convincing satisfaction that he has become the longest-serving chief executive of the country even heading a minority government with the support of the PPP’s coalition partners.
He will visit Korea from March 25 to 28, China on March 31 and Britain in the second week of April. “These are the already scheduled visits and it is unlikely that the Supreme Court will embarrass him while he is on an official visit abroad,” a federal minister said.
However, it cannot be ruled out that the Supreme Court announces its decision before his departure to Korea or when he returns on March 28 to again leave for China on March 31. But what appears from his recent public statements is that he is ready to face conviction in the contempt case rather than being dictated to write the letter.
There are reports that the prime minister, in consultation with the president, who is also PPP co-chairman, is preparing to shuffle his cabinet to form an election year team, which would work under the next prime minister in case he is convicted. The reports also suggest that he may opt to resign to avoid conviction.
In that case, among others, the name of federal minister Samina Khalid Ghurki is also being discussed in political circles. She is from Punjab like Yousaf Raza Gilani, though he comes from the south.
Another candidate for the premiership is Makhdoom Shahabuddin from South Punjab. He may be a choice in case the PPP decides to pursue its strategy of dividing the Punjab with the creation of another province. Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, on the other hand, continues to assiduously argue before the seven-member Supreme Court bench to save his client from conviction and his point is that the letter cannot be written as long as President Asif Ali Zardari holds the office of the head of state. This, however, remains to be established whether Article 248 of the Constitution, which provides immunity to the president against any court proceedings, also restricts the government from writing the letter.

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