May 21, 2013
Pakistan Supreme Court disqualifies prime minister
In April, it found Gilani guilty of contempt of court for refusing to reopen corruption cases against the president.
"Since no appeal was filed (against the April 26 conviction) ... therefore Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani stands disqualified as a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (parliament)...," said Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in a packed courtroom.
"He has also ceased to be the prime minister of Pakistan ... the office of the prime minister stands vacant."
But Fawad Chaudhry, a senior Gilani aide, said only parliament could dismiss the prime minister.
While the decision is a big blow to the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP), it is unlikely to lead to the fall of the unpopular government.
The PPP and its coalition partners have the numbers in parliament to elect a new prime minister until the government's term ends early next year.
The Supreme Court directed the Election Commission of Pakistan to issue a notification declaring Gilani ineligible for office. He is the first serving prime minister in Pakistan's history to be convicted by a court.
The decision puts Chaudhry back at the centre of Pakistan's political turbulent stage.
Chaudhry became a household name in Pakistan and gained international recognition in 2007 when he stood up to then President Pervez Musharraf over his legally questionable bid to hold on to power.
Since then Chaudhry has emerged as a major force in Pakistan, taking on the unpopular government over allegations of corruption, and more significantly the military, which has ruled the country for more than half of its 64-year history.
Chaudhry took up cases involving kidnappings and torture of suspected Islamist militants allegedly carried out by the military and intelligence agencies. They deny the charges.