Supreme Court of Pakistan. — File photo
ISLAMABAD: A contempt of court petition was filed in the Supreme Court on Monday over the writing of a letter to a law firm by the government of former premier Raja Pervez Ashraf.
The existence of the letter became public last week when Attorney General Munir A Malik informed the Supreme Court that although the previous PPP government had written a letter to the Swiss authorities in compliance with the court order on the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) case, it also sent a second secret communication to a law firm requesting for an official confirmation about the Swiss authorities’ inability to revive $60 million graft cases against the president.
Today’s petition, filed in the apex court by Syed Mehmood Akhtar Naqvi, stated that the communication made to the law firm was tantamount to committing contempt of court.
The petition added that the purpose of the second letter was the obstruction of justice and requested to make President Asif Ali Zardari, former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, former law minister Farooq H Naek and former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar party to the case. The petitioner further requested the court to order the inclusion of their names to the Exit Control List (ECL).
The allegedly secret letter was written to Dr Nicholas Jeanding of law firm Fontanetassocies Geneva by former law secretary retired Justice Yasmin Abbasey on November 22 last year, Malik had revealed before a three-judge bench which had taken up the NRO implementation case.
Dr Jeanding had been asked to explain to the attorney general of Geneva about the position of the Pakistan government that the order of closing the cases by the former attorney general on August 25, 2008, had attained finality and could not be reopened under the Swiss law.
The apex court was further surprised when Malik informed it that the secret communication was missing from the official record of the law ministry.
The secret letter
The secret letter came to light when Pakistan’s Ambassador in Berne (Switzerland) Mohammad Saleem sent a fax message on June 18 to the law secretary forwarding a letter of June 13 along with enclosures received from Dr Jeanding relating to the SGS/Cotecna money laundering case.
The ambassador was requested to send fax copies of all correspondences because the relevant files directly related to the subject were not traceable in the law ministry.
The second letter addressed to Dr Jeanding through the ambassador by the former law secretary stated that President Zardari enjoyed complete and absolute protection and immunity under Article 248(2) of the Constitution as well as the international law, which was neither being waived nor lifted.
Dr Jeanding was also instructed to explain to the AG Geneva about the position of Pakistan that the requests for mutual legal assistance made in 1997 by then chairman of Ehtesab Bureau Saifur Rehman and attorney general late Chaudhry Mohammad Farooq were illegal and had no legal effect and hereby withdrawn by the Pakistan government and might be treated as never written.