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Pak PM says to lose job if convicted of contempt


Pakistan's beleaguered Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has conceded he would automatically lose his job if he is convicted of contempt as he prepared to face the Supreme Court on Monday.

The top court threw out a last-ditch appeal by Gilani on Friday and is now set to indict him for contempt over his refusal to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

If convicted, Gilani faces six months in jail and disqualification from office in a case that has rocked his government and is expected to force elections within months in the country plagued by Al-Qaeda and Taliban violence.

Asked during an interview with Al Jazeera television at the weekend whether he would quit if found guilty, he conceded a conviction would lead to him losing his job -- but said he could leave office without actually resigning.

"Certainly then there is no need to step down if I am convicted, I am not supposed to be even the member of the parliament," Gilani said.

The Supreme Court has ordered Gilani appear for the framing of contempt charges over the government's two-year refusal to ask Swiss authorities to re-open graft cases against Zardari.

Gilani insisted that Zardari as president had immunity from prosecution both in Pakistan and abroad, adding that cases against his boss were "politically motivated."

"Whatever the charges that were levelled against him, he fought those cases in the court, he was exonerated. There had been lot of cases against him and they were all politically motivated," Gilani said.

The ruling coalition led by Zardari and Gilani held talks until late Sunday before the court appearance and discussed the prevailing political situation and elections of Senate to be held in March, political sources said.

Meanwhile, the government said that it had been told Gilani would not be allowed to bring his car up to the entrance of the Supreme Court for security reasons and it had asked the court to reconsider the decision.

"Due to prevalent security situation interior minister has written a letter to registrar of Supreme Court to allow the prime minister's vehicle," ruling Pakistan People's Party information secretary Qamar Zaman Kaira said.

Zardari and his late wife, prime minister Benazir Bhutto, were suspected of using Swiss bank accounts to launder about ê12 million in alleged bribes paid by companies seeking customs inspection contracts in Pakistan in the 1990s.

The Swiss shelved the cases in 2008, when Zardari became head of state, and a prosecutor in Switzerland has said it will be impossible to re-open them as long as he remains head of state and is immune from prosecution.