Reopening Swiss cases: SC mounts pressure on new PM
ISLAMABAD: The problem of Swiss letter refuses to go away for the Pakistan People’s Party. After Yousuf Raza Gilani was sent home by the Supreme Court, it is now the turn of the person the party chose to elevate to the post of prime minister to undergo a test of nerves.
He was asked by the court on Wednesday to come up and say what he intends to do about implementing the SC judgment in the NRO case, which in plain language means asking him if he is going to write a letter to the Swiss authorities to reopen graft cases in which President Asif Ali Zardari is an accused or, in default, face the contempt charge like his predecessor.
An apex court bench headed by Justice Nasirul Mulk and comprising Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh recalled on Wednesday that notices had been issued to the former prime minister for implementing the para 178 of the NRO judgment. In its short order, the court said contempt proceedings were initiated against him for not complying with the judgment. It said the former prime minister was tried, convicted and sentenced by the court and as a consequence he lost his National Assembly membership and the office of the prime minister.
“The new prime minister was elected last week. We trust he will honour the direction given by the court,” the bench said. It directed Attorney General Irfan Qadir to obtain instructions from Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf about implementation of the NRO judgment and inform the court on the next date of hearing, July 12.
The court also reviewed the matter of appointment of Adnan Khawaja as chairman of the OGDCL and Ahmad Riaz Sheikh as additional director of FIA by former prime minister Gilani.
Dr Abdul Basit, the counsel for Khawaja and Sheikh argued that his clients had already paid the price. He was arrested from the court, sent to jail and the salary paid to him was taken back. He said Adnan Khawaja had held the office only for six days and as soon as it was known that he was a convict he was removed from that position.
Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said: “We are not ready to accept that it was not known that former prime minister Gilani and Adnan Khawaja remained in jail together.”
But Dr Basit insisted that being in jail together did not mean that they were in the same cell and asked the court not to move ahead with an assumption. He said the case against both his clients should be closed.
The bench observed that he needed to appear before the court because his earlier plea on the same lines had been accepted.
Dr Basit said he had come to safeguard the interest of his clients as the court continued to say it wanted to know who had appointed them. He said if some aspect needed to be probed, the NAB was doing it. He argued that it was not the court’s jurisdiction to supervise a probe by investigation agencies by summoning reports.
When the court asked about the status of reference against former attorney general Malik Abdul Qayum for writing a letter to the Swiss authorities without any authorisation to close graft cases against the president, a NAB representative said that Justice (retd) Shahid Usmani, who had been assigned the task, was currently abroad and would respond on his return. Wasim Sajjad represented Malik Qayum before the court.