Irfan Qadir says he is trying to find a via media between government, Supreme Court
By: Tariq Butt
ISLAMABAD: Attorney General Irfan Qadir says he has undertaken genuine efforts to find a via media to break the logjam between the judiciary and the executive over the NRO verdict implementation, specifically, reopening of graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.
“The middle way that is being searched at the highest government level will ensure that the standing and prestige of the apex court remains safe and secure, and no harm is also done to the executive,” he told The News when contacted.
Sounding conciliatory, the attorney general said the bottom line of the concerted endeavour is that there is no clash between the two premier state institutions. “I am bound by the Constitution and have nothing to do with politics.”
Asked to specify the possible via media he is working on, Irfan Qadir did not spell it out in categorical terms, but referred to clause one of Article 248.
The provision says the president, a governor, the prime minister, a federal minister, a minister of state, the chief minister and a provincial minister shall not be answerable to any court for the exercise of powers and performance of functions of their respective offices or for any act done or purported to be done in the exercise of those powers and performance of those functions: Provided that nothing in this clause shall be construed as restricting the right of any person to bring appropriate proceedings against the federation or a province.
The attorney general said had he been the adviser to the Prime Minister (Yusuf Raza Gilani), he would have never advised him to appear in the Supreme Court when summoned by it.
However, he did not answer the question whether he would counsel Raja Pervaiz Ashraf not to turn up before the five-member bench led by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa on August 27 in connection with the show cause notice for contempt served on him. He did not want to mar the apparent “congenial” atmosphere prevailing right now in the context of the relations of the judiciary and the executive.
The attorney general, who once described the December 2009 NRO judgment as unconstitutional and illegal that did not qualify to be implemented, said that it was very difficult for the Supreme Court to revisit and take it back. Therefore, he said, it would not be proper to urge the apex court to change or withdraw its ruling. Whatever were the circumstances, the judgment was handed down.
Irfan Qadir said the government has shown lots and lots of restraint. The appearance of the former prime minister before the Supreme Court thrice was meant to demonstrate that it doesn’t opt for any clash with the judiciary.
Federal Law Minister Farooq H Naek appeared before the bench on Thursday and said he was very confident that if the case was adjourned till the first week of September, something very positive will come out.
The attorney general said there was a genuine desire on part of the government to resolve the issue once and for all.
The court turned down Naek’s request to put off the hearing later than August 27, saying it would only be possible if the prime minister made a positive commitment that day.
Justice Khosa said: “We have only issued direction in para 178 (of the NRO judgment) and stated that the status of Pakistan as damaged civil party be revived, we did not add anything; we did not mention the president or the prosecution; we do not want anything more than what we have written; we do not know why this exaggeration is going on; problem arises in the absence of commitment, we cannot terminate the proceedings.”