Pakistan opposition boycotts PM dinner for Erdogan

Discussion in 'Pakistan' started by Son of Govinda, May 21, 2012.

  1. Son of Govinda

    Son of Govinda Regular Member

    Apr 1, 2012
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    AFP: Pakistan opposition boycotts PM dinner for Erdogan

    ISLAMABAD — Pakistan's main opposition party said Monday it would boycott a banquet being hosted by the prime minister for Turkey's premier, as a protest against the Pakistani leader's conviction for contempt.

    The snub from opposition leader Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N is likely to embarrass Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in front of his visiting Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is widely admired in Pakistan.

    On April 26, Gilani became Pakistan's first sitting prime minister to be convicted in court, for refusing to ask the Swiss authorities to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

    Gilani had refused on the grounds that the head of state enjoys immunity.

    The PML-N has demanded that Gilani resign, saying the conviction disqualifies him from office and has called for early elections, not due before February 2013.

    "No one (from the party) is going to the dinner, because we do not recognise him as prime minister," PML-N media coordinator Asim Niazi told AFP.

    Erdogan flew into Islamabad on Sunday for a three-day official visit. He is due to address a joint session of parliament before the banquet later Monday.

    Senior PML-N leaders said, however, that the party would set domestic politics aside to attend the parliamentary session, because "Erdogan is our honoured guest".

    The allegations against Zardari date back to the 1990s, when he and his late wife, ex-premier Benazir Bhutto, are suspected of using Swiss accounts to launder about $12 million allegedly paid in bribes by companies seeking customs inspection contracts.

    The Swiss shelved the cases in 2008 when Zardari became president and a prosecutor in Switzerland has said it will be impossible to re-open them as long as he remains head of state. Gilani has vowed to appeal his conviction.

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