Pakistani prime minister agrees to court demand in graft case

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The judges convicted former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani of contempt of court for refusing to follow their orders and ousted him from office in June. The government then rallied support in Parliament to elect the current prime minister.

The lead judge hearing the case, Asif Saeed Khosa, has struck a more conciliatory tone this time around, possibly because of public criticism of the court for actions that could lead to the downfall of the first civilian government poised to finish its five-year term in the country’s history. Past governments were toppled by direct or indirect intervention by the country’s powerful army, often with help of the judiciary.

The current government’s term ends in early 2013. There is little chance of a coup, but some expected the government would be forced to call early elections.

Judge Khosa thanked the prime minister Tuesday for giving “us a commitment to make serious, sincere efforts to implement the orders of the court.” He gave the government until Sept. 25 to write the letter to the Swiss.

The move could leave Mr. Zardari open to the risk of prosecution after his term ends in 2013. But there has also been debate about whether the case’s statute of limitations will have expired by then.

Associated Press writers Zarar Khan and Sebastian Abbot contributed to this report.

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