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Govt stance on Swiss letter unchanged

July 24, 2012

Supreme_Court_AFP_7_670
Supreme Court of Pakistan — AFP Photo

ISLAMABAD: A day ahead of the hearing of NRO implementation case by a five-judge Supreme Court bench, the federal government filed on Tuesday an application in which it unequivocally stated that it would not write a letter to the Swiss authorities to reopen graft cases against President Asif Zardari.

But the response drafted by Attorney General Irfan Qadir after holding brainstorming sessions with Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and Law Minister Farooq H. Naek on Monday night was returned by the court office with an objection that a civil miscellaneous application could not be filed against a court decision, although a petition seeking review of an earlier order was possible.

Mr Qadir told reporters that he would move a review petition possibly Wednesday with contentions similar to that contained in the application, reflecting the government’s mood that it was not going to budge from its stance on NRO implementation.

“The prime minister cannot be asked by means of the July 12 order to implement an un-implementable direction given by the Supreme Court in the NRO case,” said the application returned by the court. It requested the court to recall its June 27 and July 12 orders asking the prime minister to clarify his stance on implementing the NRO verdict.

On July 12, the special bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa had asked the prime minister to submit a report about compliance with the NRO judgment which required writing the letter to Swiss authorities. The court also warned that it could initiate any appropriate action under the Constitution if the government failed to comply with its orders.

“There is no question whatsoever of revival of Pakistan’s status as a damaged party (writing of letter to the Swiss authorities) because the Supreme Court’s own jurisdiction is limited to the territories of Pakistan,” the application said, adding that if the apex court itself was not in a position to seek revival of Pakistan’s status as a damaged party then it also had no mandate to force the prime minister to do the same. “In fact after the conclusion of Swiss investigations Pakistan has no role to play in these matters. There was no occasion for the seven-judge Supreme Court hearing a contempt case against the former prime minister to have called him thrice in the court. This is an utter disregard of the Constitution and the law,” the application said.

It also argued that since the new prime minister had not received any advice from his cabinet to implement the NRO judgment, he (prime minister) was, therefore, not obliged under the Constitution and the rules of business to do so.

The application said the June 27 and July 12 orders were against Article 248 (1 and 2) (immunity) because the prime minister by virtue of his oath was bound to preserve and protect the Constitution and was under constitutional obligation to disregard any order of the court which negated the Constitution and the law.

The application pointed out certain peculiarities of the NRO case and said: “In this case over 8,000 persons were condemned unheard. The government did not contest this case. Seventeen judges sat for a considerably long period in a case not contested by either side at all….. The Supreme Court assumed full control of NAB, thereby transgressing into executive domain.”

It said a number of portions of paragraphs 177, 178 and 179 (writing of letter to the Swiss authorities) were not implementable.

“In fact such portions have not been implemented till date,” it said.