The Prime Minister of Pakistan Yousuf Raza Gilani no longer occupies the role of PM. Why? Has there been an election? No. PM Gilani was arrested, charged and promptly found guilty of contempt of court.
It was alleged that he had failed to pursue corruption charges against President Asif Ali Zardari. He was tried by the country's Supreme Court in April 2012. Found guilty initially he received a token sentence. One that was barely worth a mention.
However he did not raise an appeal against that sentence and now he has been banned from resuming the office of Prime Minister. Today June 19, 2012, Gilani has been disqualified from parliament and office.
In the aftermath of the original court hearing in April Gilani refused to resign. Today a packed court room was told by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry that, "Since no appeal was filed [against the 26 April conviction]... therefore Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani stands disqualified as a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora [parliament]." He added: "He has also ceased to be the prime minister of Pakistan... the office of the prime minister stands vacant."
This must surely leave the volatile regions of Pakistan in a pickle. The judgemnet has been backdated to April 26, 2012. So are any decisions and rulings made bu Gilani since that date still binding? It would seem that they may not be.
According to the BBC, "Senior leaders of the governing Pakistan People's Party (PPP) are in emergency session with Mr Gilani and President Zardari."
Currently no-one seems quite sure whether an election will follow, the government fall or what may happen. It is safe to say though that Pakistan is one place where a political power vacuum or coup would be terrible news. Local politicians are trying to resolve the issue quickly but that may not be easy.
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog