Pakistan's Supreme Court Thursday levelled a veiled threat to remove the new prime minister from office, like his predecessor, unless he agrees to pursue corruption cases against the president.
It appears the judiciary is unwilling to end a showdown with the coalition government, which could force elections before February 2013 when it would become the first in Pakistan to complete an elected, full five-year mandate.
Judge Asif Saeed Khosa said Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf was "bound to implement the relevant directions of this court," just like his predecessor, whom the court last month dismissed for contempt for refusing to obey its order.
The judiciary has been trying for years to force the administration to reopen multi-million-dollar corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari, which its critics have likened to a personal vendetta campaign.
After dismissing prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on June 19, it gave Ashraf two weeks to indicate whether he would write to the Swiss authorities to reopen the cases which were shelved in 2008 when Zaradri became president.
On Thursday, Kohsa rejected government stalling tactics and ordered Ashraf to submit a report on July 25 "regarding compliance... failing which this court may initiate any appropriate action under the constitution and the law".
The allegations against Zardari date back to the 1990s, when he and his late wife, former premier Benazir Bhutto, are suspected of using Swiss bank accounts to launder $12 million allegedly paid in bribes by companies seeking customs inspection contracts.
The government insists the president has full immunity.
But in 2009 the court overturned a political amnesty that froze investigations into the president and other politicians, ordering that the cases be reopened.
Source: AFP South Asian Edition