ISLAMABAD: The PPP finalised on Friday its strategy for the Aug 27 hearing on the NRO implementation case, but its spokesman said a final decision about Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf’s appearance before the Supreme Court would be taken after consultation with coalition partners.
According to sources, senior leaders of the party held a meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari at the Presidency and discussed the possible repercussion if the prime minister did not appear before the court to answer contempt charges.
The meeting was attended by Raja Pervez Ashraf, former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Nazar Muhammad Gondal, Rana Mohammad Farooq Saeed Khan, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Rehman Malik, Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo, Farooq H. Naek, Makhdoom Shahabuddin, Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, Sardar Ali Khan, Farhatullah Babar, Rukhsana Bangash and Fouzia Habib.
The Supreme Court had last month issued a contempt notice to Prime Minister Ashraf for not implementing its order of writing a letter to the Swiss authorities to reopen a money-laundering case against President Zardari. Mr Ashraf has been asked to appear before a five-judge bench headed by Justice Asif Khosa on August 27 to respond to the notice.
Speaking before another bench, also headed by Justice Asif Khosa, Attorney General Irfan Qadir had dropped a hint that the prime minister might not appear before the court on Aug 27 to answer the contempt charges.
The same day the former prime minister had advised Mr Ashraf not to appear before the Supreme Court. Talking to reporters in Multan, Mr Gilani said the apex court had not set right precedents in the past which was reflecting through the current crisis in the country.
He said he would continue to protest against what he termed judicial oppression at all levels, adding that there would never be a stable Pakistan if another prime minister was sacked.
The sources said Prime Minister Ashraf had been advised by his legal advisers and senior PPP leaders not to appear before the court on August 27.
Interestingly, the official handout issued after the meeting did not mention that it also discussed the strategy for the Aug 27 hearing.
However, a number of participants when contacted confirmed that the issue had come under discussion and Law Minister Farooq H. Naek gave a detailed briefing. But they said President Zardari would take a final decision only after consultation with coalition partners.
President’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar said he could only say that a meeting with coalition partners would be held soon.
The handout said the meeting had discussed the current political situation in the country with the main focus on law and order, floods and energy crisis.
Mr Babar said Prime Minister Ashraf and Water and Power Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar briefed the participants on the energy situation and progress on various measures being taken to cope with power shortage.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik briefed the meeting on the law and order situation and measures taken to ensure security during Eid.
Minister for Climate Change Rana Mohammad Farooq briefed the meeting on the floods situation.
Mr Babar said the meeting had also reviewed reports on the grievances of Hindus and incidents of discrimination against minorities. The meeting resolved that the government would not allow discrimination against minorities who would be provided full protection of law.
The spokesperson said the president had expressed concern over recent loss of lives and property in northern and other parts of the country and called for gearing up preparations to cope with floods.
He said that in view of predictions of heavy rains and floods, there was an urgent need for greater coordination between the federal and provincial authorities to avert any untoward situation. He advised the federal government to provide all possible support to the provincial governments in taking precautionary measures and to provide relief to people affected by the rains.