ISLAMABAD: The affable ambiance that had developed after Prime Minister Raja Parvez Ashraf appeared before the Supreme Court for the first time in contempt case on Aug 27 may wither away soon because the government now seems unwilling to send any letter to the Swiss authorities.
Mr Ashraf, who had assured a five-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa that he would come up with an amicable solution to the issue in his next appearance on Sept 18, is expected to follow the line adopted by his predecessor and eventually lose his coveted office.
An informed source privy to the latest developments revealed that the formula pursued vigorously by certain elements in the federal government to write a letter to the Swiss authorities in compliance with the NRO judgment in a way that did not hurt the government had been scrapped.
President Asif Ali Zardari shot down the proposal before leaving for Iran to attend the NAM summit in the last week of August.
The final nod on the proposal had to be given by the president without bothering about the sentiments of his party colleagues.
The decision so taken has vindicated the stand advanced forcefully by the leaders close to former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani who pressurised the government to stick to its stance of not writing the letter, come what may.
Mr Gilani was sent packing on June 19 after being disqualified as a parliamentarian by the Supreme Court for not honouring its order to write the letter.
When asked, adviser to prime minister on political affairs Fawad Chaudhry acknowledged that for the time being the government would continue to stick to the same line taken by Mr Gilani, that “we respect the judiciary but at the same time we have to adhere to the Constitution that bars us from exposing the president to a foreign judicial system”.
Former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association Tariq Mehmood said: “I see a bleak scenario because the ongoing face-off between the executive and the judiciary will further intensify in the coming days.”
He said the contempt case against President Zardari pending in the Lahore High Court for not relinquishing political office of PPP co-chairman has already vitiated the political atmosphere.
Mr Mehmood said he feared the government might go for an all-out confrontation with the judiciary.
When Prime Minister Ashraf appears before the court along with his counsel Waseem Sajjad, he is likely to present a summary saying he had not come alone. Rather the entire cabinet is with him in endorsing the view that the letter should not be written.
The Constitution provides an authority to the prime minister to act either directly or through the federal ministers (the cabinet) in performance of his functions.
Mr Mehmood said that if Prime Minister Ashraf was also disqualified, the next premier could be a woman from the special reserved seats. If that does happen the PPP would not lose a National Assembly seat if the third chief executive is also disqualified.