A Pakistani court today observed that President Asif Ali Zardari should have quit the political office of the head of the ruling PPP in light of its earlier order that he was not expected to hold dual posts.
A five-judge bench of the Lahore High Court headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial made the observation while hearing a petition filed by a man named Muneer Ahmad Khan, who has sought contempt of court proceedings against Zardari for not complying with the court's order issued last year.
The Chief Justice further observed that it had asked the President not to conduct political activities in the presidency.
He made these remarks when government lawyer Wasim Sajjad said the High Court had only "expected" that the President would quit his political office.
Sajjad further said the court had not issued any direct order asking Zardari to step down as head of the Pakistan Peoples Party.
He said the term "expectation" was open to alternate interpretations and the President might conclude that it did not amount to a binding direction.
The bench asked Sajjad to present his arguments under Article 248 of the Constitution, which provides immunity to the President.
Sajjad then said he would present his arguments on Article 248 only after the bench decided the maintainability of the petition.
Petitioner Munir Ahmed's lawyer A K Dogar said Article 248 did not provide immunity to the President in a contempt of court case.
The court subsequently adjourned the proceedings till tomorrow, when Dogar will continue his arguments.
Ahmed earlier told the bench that the President had not dissociated himself from his political office as was expected by a full bench of the Lahore High Court.
He said the court's directions had not been followed and the President had not stopped "misusing" the presidency.
He claimed that the use of the presidency for "partisan" political activities by Zardari was illegal and amounted to contempt of court.
He asked the bench to issue a show-cause notice to the President and to punish him for contempt.
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