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ISLAMABAD: The fate of Pakistan’s embattled leaders, including the President, Mr Asif Ali Zardari, could be decided when the Supreme Court takes up the memo scandal and high-profile graft cases on Monday even as the beleaguered government turned to Parliament for support, amid indications that the powerful military would rally behind the apex court.

Pak govt readies for showdown with SC

ISLAMABAD: The fate of Pakistan’s embattled leaders, including the President, Mr Asif Ali Zardari, could be decided when the Supreme Court takes up the memo scandal and high-profile graft cases on Monday even as the beleaguered government turned to Parliament for support, amid indications that the powerful military would rally behind the apex court.

The National Assembly or lower House of Parliament is expected to vote on Monday on a resolution that seeks endorsement and support for "efforts made by the political leadership for strengthening democracy" and calls for reposing "full confidence and trust" in the leadership.

Even as Parliament considers the resolution, a 17-member bench of the Supreme Court will resume hearing of a case on reopening of corruption cases that were closed under the National Reconciliation Ordinance, a graft amnesty issued by former military ruler Mr Pervez Musharraf in 2007.

A judicial commission appointed by the apex court to investigate a mysterious memo that sought US help to prevent a feared military coup in Pakistan last year will also continue its proceedings tomorrow.

Pakistani-American businessman Mr Mansoor Ijaz, who triggered a storm in the country’s political circles by making public the memo, is slated to testify before the commission on Monday though doubts continue to surround his plans to travel to Pakistan.

Amidst the pressure from the judiciary, the government has been engaged in a bruising confrontation with the powerful military over the memo scandal.

The apex court accepted the Army chief, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s request for a probe into the matter while rejecting the government’s contention that the issue should be investigated by a parliamentary panel.

Mr Raza Rumi, a leading Pakistani columnist, said the elected executive and unelected institutions had "entered into a logjam".

He told PTI: "The Parliament will debate a loosely worded resolution on constitutional governance while the Supreme Court will hear two important cases that can potentially endanger the future of the civilian government."

Mr Rumi noted that the military had reportedly decided to back the apex court.

"Clearly, the civilians have gained some ground as the military, despite its power, has refrained from launching a coup," he said.

Tensions between the government and the military reached a peak last week after the Prime Minister, Mr Yousuf Raza Gilani said the Army and intelligence chiefs had acted in an "unconstitutional and illegal" manner by filing affidavits on the memo issue in the Supreme Court without getting the government’s approval.

The military reacted within days through a strongly worded statement that said the Premier’s remarks could have "grievous consequences".

Mr Gilani retaliated by sacking the defence secretary Lt Gen (retired) Khalid Naeem Lodhi, a confidant of Gen Kayani.

The Premier charged the former general with "gross misconduct" and creating misunderstandings between the government and the military.

The apex court has been building pressure on the government since it struck down the NRO, which benefited Mr Zardari and 8,000 others, in 2009.

It has pressured the government to write to Swiss authorities to reopen cases of alleged money laundering against Mr Zardari but the government has refused to do so, saying the President enjoys immunity under the Constitution.

Mr Zardari himself has said the government will not approach the Swiss authorities as long as he is in office as such a move would be tantamount to putting on trial the grave of his wife, former premier Benazir Bhutto, who too had benefited from the NRO.

However, the Supreme Court warned last week that the Premier could be disqualified and that action could also be taken against the President if the government kept defying its orders on the NRO issue.

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