Dawn News

March, 31 2015
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Cost of not writing

WRITE the letter. The government has hemmed and hawed enough, it has ducked and weaved from the Supreme Court's straightforward demand enough; now is the time for the government to reassess its stubborn position and to change it. On Monday, the prime minister will appear for the second time in a matter of weeks before the SC, this time to be charged with contempt of court for failing to implement the NRO judgment in totality. Rightly or wrongly, the government feels it has been singled out for unfair and partisan treatment by the SC and that sense of victimhood has fuelled its defiance of the court's order to write a letter to the Swiss authorities that could lead to the reopening of old corruption cases against President Zardari. But the calculus has changed for the government in recent weeks. The question now is more straightforward: is the government willing to sacrifice its prime minister over the Swiss letter?

Until the SC again took up the NRO matter in earnest a few months ago, the government's team handling the issue was relatively smug. By trying every political and legal tactic to stymie the court, the strategy led by former law minister Babar Awan appeared to have succeeded. The NRO matter had seemingly slid off the list of priorities and other issues appeared to occupy the judiciary and roil the political landscape. However, in that strategy of doing whatever it takes to buy more time for the government were sown the seeds of the present showdown. Angered at being defied so brazenly and egregiously, the court once again took up the matter in earnest and this time has showed no sign of standing down at the last minute. Bald defiance does not appear to be an option for the government any more.

At this point, perhaps it is time for some within the government circles to stand up and speak sense to the party leadership. Legal circles appear near unanimous in their opinion that merely writing the Swiss letter will not automatically reopen the cases against President Zardari. In fact, eminent lawyers and legal analysts have suggested that the government could write the letter and simultaneously claim immunity, both under international law and the Pakistani constitution. Within the government circles stands one man, Aitzaz Ahsan, who has both the moral authority and legal expertise to have his opinion taken with great seriousness. Between now and Monday, there is still time for someone like Mr Ahsan, and others, to speak out to avert the catastrophe of a prime minister being convicted by the SC.


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Comments (6) Closed



Syed
Feb 11, 2012 08:30am
Prime minister seems to be more loyal to the president of Pakistan than the people who elected him. He has no respect for the judiciary as compared to Presidency. At this stage of time SC is right to take action and should not give more time to the PM for pondering.
Yaseen Mirza
Feb 11, 2012 03:05pm
No one can deny this fact that the Government did everything to escape from implementation of Supreme Court's judgement on NRO. Delaying tactics were used. Mr. Barbar Awan played a key role in it. But nobody is above the law. After rejection of appeal the government is left with no choice except to abide by the orders of Supreme Court. First of all letter to Swiss Authorities must be written and if the Government thinks that Mr. Asif Ali Zardari has the immunity,they should ask for it from Supreme Court.
Nathan
Feb 11, 2012 05:29pm
The Pakistani supreme court has in fact overreached its constitutional role in many ways. It is unheard of the SC investigating an unsigned memo and ignoring the issue of a sitting president's immunity. The justices are acting as if they are elected by the people to be the sole guardians of the nation. In the past, Pakistani military acted in this way. The parallels are too clear. Time and again, the military ruined the country's integrity and impeded its progress in the name of security. They have fostered extremism in the national psyche. Do the honorable justices want to follow this path in their over-reach on the issue of arbitrary judicial decrees? I think that PM should confront the justices instead of yielding more space to their overreach, regardless of the personal cost to him. The country needs some one to challenge such an overreach.
afghan
Feb 11, 2012 08:24pm
every time ppp showed her as a victim of unfair judiciary. but now the combat will be on transparent tactics and one will be sacrificed from government. ppp do not betray the nation. there is no more space for political martyr
dani
Feb 11, 2012 08:53pm
the apex court has rightly come to the view to frame the charge of court contempt on prime minister.
state ali
Feb 12, 2012 12:33am
Prime Minister of Pakistan will be remembered in the political history of the country as the most patient and wise PM.Respect of judiciery is being fulyllfil by PPP but infact the chief justice is near relative to punjab law minister rana sanaullah so he is acting upon mr rana words to defame PPP.But remember every time these forces tried to finish ppp but they are sadly mistaken coz its not PPP which is alive but its BHUTTOISM which is and inshallah will remain evergreen.