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Pakistan's parliament speaker says she has decided that a conviction for contempt against Prime Minister Yousuf Reza Gilani doesn't mean he has to step down.

Thursday's remarks by speaker Fehmida Mirza are a boost for Gilani, though they were not surprising since the two are political allies.

Gilani was convicted April 16 for refusing to open a dormant corruption probe against his boss, President Asif Ali Zardari.

The case has heightened political conflict in Pakistan as tensions mount with the United States over the future of the Afghan war.

In Pakistan, the parliament speaker decides whether a lawmaker _ in this case the prime minister _ must resign if there is a conviction against him.

Mirza's decision could yet be subject to legal challenge.

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