No Swiss letter, Prime Minister Ashraf to tell Supreme Court today
By: Tariq Butt
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf will make no commitment to the Supreme Court personally, or through his lawyer, on Tuesday to write a letter to the Swiss authorities against President Asif Ali Zardari, his aides say.
“No letter to Switzerland will be and can be written because the Constitution doesn’t allow it,” Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Fawad Chaudhry told The News repeating his earlier assertion a day before the crucial contempt proceedings against his boss.
However, when approached, Attorney General Irfan Qadir was cautious and reserved, and withheld his views saying that the coalition allies would take a decision in their meeting with President Zardari hours before the hearing.
Fawad Chaudhry believed that the prime minister would personally appear before the five-member bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, which is seized with the contempt case against Pervaiz Ashraf for not sending the requisite letter to Switzerland in pursuance of the December 16, 2009 judgment of the Supreme Court against the amnesty law, the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).
Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, who represented former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani in the contempt case in which he was convicted and disqualified, has been quoted as saying that the government cannot write the letter till the time Zardari was the president.
Meanwhile, the prime minister has contacted noted advocate Wasim Sajjad to represent him in the contempt proceedings. The lawyer was not available for comments. He is already arguing for the president in the Lahore High Court in the contempt proceedings against him for not implementing its verdict in the dual offices case.
When on August 27 Pervaiz Ashraf appeared before the bench for the first time, the court gave him three weeks to implement the order given in its December 16, 2009 NRO judgment, and directed him to personally reappear before it on September 18 with a positive commitment that the judicial order would be obeyed.
“We are only interested in implementing para 178 of the NRO judgment that relates to the withdrawal of a letter written to the Swiss government by former attorney general Malik Muahammad Qayyum,” Justice Khosa told Pervaiz Ashraf.
The Para 178 says since the NRO stands declared void ab initio, therefore, any actions taken or suffered under the NRO are also non east in law and since the communications addressed by Attorney General Malik Muhammad Qayyum to various foreign fora/authorities/courts withdrawing the requests earlier made by the Pakistan government for mutual legal assistance; surrendering the status of civil party; abandoning the claims to the allegedly laundered moneys lying in foreign countries, including Switzerland, have also been declared by us to be unauthorised and illegal communications and consequently of no legal effect; therefore, it is declared that the initial requests for mutual legal assistance; securing the status of civil party and the claims lodged to the allegedly laundered moneys lying in foreign countries, including Switzerland, are declared never to have been withdrawn.
Therefore, the federal government and other authorities concerned are ordered to take immediate steps to seek revival of the requests, claims and status.
This seeks undoing and withdrawal of the then attorney general’s 2008 unauthorised communications to Swiss authorities; and revival of Pakistan’s earlier requests for mutual legal assistance, which Qayyum had dispensed with, Islamabad’s status as civil party and its claims to allegedly laundered moneys lying in foreign countries, including Switzerland.
The attorney general told The News that the law was very clear on writing the letter. There is no flexibility in it; he said adding that the ruling alliance will take the final decision. “This is a political decision.”