On the contempt path

PM GilaniIt has happened quite often in the past when people have, or, have had to sacrifice their careers, honours—and in some cases, life—to protect and preserve the property and position of their bosses or benefactors.

This seems exactly the case with the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, after being indicted by the Supreme Court for contempt of court, which simply means, for not writing a letter to the Swiss authorities reviving the graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.   The seven-member bench after a brief proceeding of the contempt of court case framed the two-page charge sheet against the prime minister for non-compliance of the Supreme Court judgement on NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance).

Never before has a Pakistani prime minister been graced with this kind of disgrace. Gilani on February arrived 13 at the Supreme Court in pouring rain amid stringent security around the Red Zone area barring all kinds of motor and human traffic; only helicopters could be seen hovering over the court building like vultures against the backdrop of dark grey sky.
He drove the four-wheeler himself with an unknown passenger (driving instructor?) who probably was there to say “keep it to the right, keep it to the left” to keep the powered steering-wheel in the right position on an empty capital road.

It means he has accepted the soaking-wet political weather, which is both unfriendly and unpredictable. Was this driving exercise to prove he’s still in the driving seat – active and alert with hands-and-feet reflexes well-coordinated?Many wish he was in the government’s driver’s seat too; he’s not, and never was for all practical purposes. But, when he’s before the court, it won’t be just the foot-reflexes — it will be the foot-and-mouth coordination that may restrict him from putting his foot in his own mouth, which he’s so good at.

Driving in the traffic-free zone is not the same as learning to negotiate the multiple sharp blind turns and exercising extreme caution during slippery-when-wet conditions and sections ahead of him. The road had no pins or pebbles scattered across it, the security had taken care of all such risks.  After the short hearing, when he emerged from the apex court building, emotions were written all over his face with eyes popping out for fear and frustration.

It was so easy to distinguish a bereaved face from brave.There are so many things Gilani must admit and accept. The first thing is that four years of his tenure are over; this is the final year – call it election year, which will also be over. He’s got to decide whether he wants to spend the remaining months in the PM House or the Bara Ghar (the prison). In other words he must work on mental preparation for what’s to come.

Gilani’s Rs100 (token fee) counsel, Aitzaz Ahsan, is fully qualified to offer support when he climbs the final steps leading to the court on the last two days of the shortest month in the year — February. He will surely walk him down the Supreme Court isle, and help him pass through roadblocks (which will be many) unscathed.If his departure is imminent, it’s about time the prime minister started gathering all his personal and political investment he made in friends and party men to pay stubs and bills.

He must consider potential custody arrangements of his executive powers with his party and allies. Also, will he be able make a last ditch effort to talk to his political spouse – the President—and try to come to some agreement on the issue – in this case writing the dreaded letter?If he’s found guilty of contempt and is unprepared for the reaction from friends and action from foes, then the indictment would be too big a price for a four-year stint as prime minister.

The impression being created by the ruling and its allies is that the Supreme Court is being ‘unnecessarily’ persistent and fussy about the issue. Is it not unnecessary thinking? No matter what the outcome, it’s better for Gilani to work on his reflexes and responses and be also prepared for a prison sentence of up to six months – and a silly amount of Rs100,000 as fine. – Khaleejnews