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Two-week breather for Raja Pervez

Published Jul 25, 2012 09:27pm


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Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. — File Photo

ISLAMABAD: In what has been billed as a pleasant softening in its rigid position on the NRO implementation case, the Supreme Court suggested to the government on Wednesday to find a way out of the current impasse between the executive and the judiciary.

During the hearing of the case, a five-judge special bench repeatedly asked the government through the attorney general to use wisdom and find a solution to vindicate the positions of the two institutions perceived to be at logger heads, also implying that it was not in a mood to send another prime minister home and conceding that President Asif Ali Zardari enjoyed immunity from prosecution in criminal cases.

The surprising change in the court’s tough stance came amid widespread speculation that curtains would also fall on the new prime minister, especially against the backdrop of Tuesday’s clear message to the Supreme Court by the government that come what may it was not going to write a letter to the Swiss authorities to reopen graft cases worth $60 million to embarrass President Asif Ali Zardari.

The proceeding in the Courtroom No 2 presided over by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa simply delayed the perceived confrontation for at least two weeks.

The hearing which commenced with a belligerent posture by Attorney General Irfan Qadir who insisted that the NRO judgment was non-implementable and that Justice Khosa should consider withdrawing himself from the bench for having discussed Swiss cases against President Zardari with him in the past, concluded on a positive note.

Although the court expected the government to write the letter, the tone and tenor this time was all together different from what it used to be.

“Attorney General Irfan Qadir has made some submissions but in the end he sought time to make serious and genuine efforts to solve the so-called standoff between the two important and critical institutions of the country,” Justice Khosa observed while dictating an order.

“We trust that the gap between the stated positions of the two institutions is not impossible to bridge and we wish him (AG) well in his efforts to bring acceptable solution to the pending issue,” Justice Khosa observed. But before rising for the day, he pointed to the AG and said: “Now the whole country will not be looking towards us. Don’t disappoint them.”

However, some legal experts have taken Wednesday’s proceedings with a pinch of salt, expressing scepticism that challenges to the new contempt law pending before another five-judge bench was the main reason behind the strategic retreat. They are of the opinion that when the Supreme Court takes up the NRO implementation case next time, the fate of the new law will have been decided by then, leaving the court with a clear direction to move forward.

A senior lawyer said the judges had deflected the mounting criticism being heaped upon the judiciary towards the executive so that next time when an adverse order was issued they might have an excuse that every possible opportunity had been provided for resolving the controversy.

Later addressing a press conference, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira also endorsed the attorney general’s opinion that Justice Khosa should recuse himself from the bench because concerns were being expressed about his observations in the NRO case.

It all started when the AG argued that the Supreme Court should not monitor cases in the National Accountability Bureau, adding that no officer of the bureau was bound to report to the apex court.

When Justice Khosa asked whether the court’s directives for writing the letter to Swiss authorities had been followed, the AG retorted that he should recuse himself for being biased.

“You are only trying to block the case’s proceedings, but you can find a solution to the issue if you wish to,” Justice Khosa said, adding: “Let’s solve this, we are not against the system, any person or any office, but at the same time we don’t want to compromise our position.” He also explained that he didn’t know whether he should say these things or not.

And pointing towards the AG, Justice Khosa said: “We have been friends for 30 years and we are ready to help and we have no personal interests against any national party. We know the economy has nosedived and the political instability is killing us.”

Justice Khosa rejected a request by the attorney general to take up the matter after Eid holidays and said time should not be wasted when ‘Razinama’ (settlement) was being reached.

“This (NRO implementation) is our national issue and you (the executive) have to take a political decision for safeguarding courts. Let’s be honest this is our country and we have to sink and swim together,” Justice Khosa said, adding that it was always difficult for a court of law to go back on its decisions as the room for manoeuvring for courts was very limited. But there were ways for reopening things, he added.

“Politics is the name of adjustments, politicians are trained for this. Therefore, adjustments from your end will be more flexible,” the court said.

“This bending has broken us,” the AG said.

Justice Khosa suggested to the AG to find a way so that the positions of both the institutions were vindicated. It’s only a matter of using the head wisely, he observed.

Referring to the contempt case against former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Justice Khosa recalled that the issue of presidential immunity had never been discussed and the court went up to the last limit before deciding against the former prime minister.

“For God sake don’t jump towards a confrontational stage where you start thinking that courts will guillotine you instead of giving time,” Justice Khosa said, adding: “You just have to write to Swiss authorities to ignore the earlier letter of former AG Malik Qayyum for closing the money laundering cases.”

He also accepted the stated position of the PPP that the president enjoyed immunity. “We don’t deny about the immunity and we are ready to give any help by even stating in our order that Zardari is the president and has the immunity. God willing nothing will happen and democracy will not be derailed,” Justice Khosa said, adding that the world would watch that both the institutions would be vindicated.

Meanwhile, NAB Prosecutor General K.K. Agha informed the court that the bureau was in the process of submitting a reference against three persons in a case of Ahmed Riaz Sheikh, former additional director general of the Federal Investigation Agency and one of the beneficiaries of the National Reconciliation Ordinance.


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Comments (22) Closed

shankar Jul 26, 2012 10:19am
Frankly this confrontation was forced on the government by the judiciary. Mr. Gilani was jailed for 10 seconds symbolically and they should have stopped with that! That alone would have enhanced the dignity of the SC multi-fold! It is madness to ask a government to write to another country to open up corruption cases against its president! It is too extreme to sack a democratically elected PM just because he heads such a government! It is too unwise to ignore the kind of scepticism such a move creates in the minds of the people about democracy as a whole. The SC has done enormous damage to the dignity of the office of the president of Pakistan and its PM and has done a great disservice to its own reputation as an institute with people of wisdom who are capable of thinking beyond their own sphere of influence and egos. I still have utmost respect for the judiciary in Pakistan and their courage in taking on the bull of corruption by the horn but I only wish they had exhibited greater wisdom! I am extremely glad that the SC seems keen on settling this without any more political bloodshed and I hope the government plays ball in the larger interest of the country!
Qasim Jul 26, 2012 12:35pm
I thinks the government will not write a letter for Swiss authorise for any situation so i suggest the Sc write a letter by Regis tar or Authority general of Pakistan and solve this issue and concentrate other corruptions cases. .
islam Jul 26, 2012 04:08pm
if the president is charged with corruption, it is the duty of members of parliament to impeach
MR Afridi Jul 26, 2012 09:52pm
I think its useless to discuss these poor and corrupt polititians and failed governance. Every institution is responsible for what happening in country. Nothing will happen. No improvement will come. Civilian will be remained the victim. The system giving the impression that our country is not for poor and innocent people. If you have money and power you can do anything whateve u want and has been proved. Dont waste time on discussing these basters.....we all are looking forward to the CJ but it is true that one person cant do anything and it seems to me Zardari and alies are beating CJ......salam to CJ. May Allah protect our country
A senir citizen Jul 26, 2012 11:04pm
My advice to PPP would be to stick to their position that is correct and save the image of Pakistan. We have seen bigger blunders of the judiciary in our early history. A senior citizen
S R Khan Jul 27, 2012 07:32am
Yeh Chiththi ka itna bada issue kyon banaya hua hai. Below are my few suggestions, jisse saanp bhi mar jaaye aur laathi bhi na toote: 1. Chiththi official language Urdu mein likhi jaye. Swiss authorities ko samagh nahi aayega or SC khush rahega. 2. Thik hai, chiththi English mein hi likhiye lekin address to galat likh sakte hein? 3. Ek yahoo par spurious account banayiye. us account se Swiss to email kar deejiye, SC to CC mein rakhiye. Email spam folder mein chali jayegi. Hum bhi khush, SC bhi Khush !!
Senior Citizen Jul 27, 2012 02:22am
Rubbish. My advice to PPP would be to stick to their position that is correct and save the image of Pakistan. We have seen bigger blunders of the judiciary in our early history.
Khalid Mahmood Jul 26, 2012 02:18pm
CJ is the only KNOWN respectable person amongst mostly unworthy people.
NASAH (USA) Jul 26, 2012 02:22pm
CJ may be now -- but he was not in 1999. He may be exceptional now -- but then - he was like any other judge who institutionalized an unconstitutional dictator. A nation is never disgraced - only its individuals.
Abdul Waheed Jul 26, 2012 09:54am
At last the judges (other than Justice Iftikhar and retired justice Ramday) will realize that their stubbornness / confrontation is doing damage to the economy of the country especially poor people and this instability / uncertainty / anarchy cannot last long. In case sanity does not prevail on judges, Army may enforce some General Kakar formula. Anyhow it is heartening that some amicable / plausible remedy will come out out of this grave impasse. Our nation faced this turmoil / crises becuase old graves were digged out in the form of annuling NRO. Only lawyers earned huge money but the nation suffered a lot. Judiciary is not living in space, they have to take into account the adverse consequences of their judgement in cases of political and economic nature.
Naveed Jul 26, 2012 11:05am
I think he is gone tooo
A J Khan Jul 26, 2012 11:01am
CJ is he the only respectable man amongst the disgraced nation.
Saleem Chughtai Jul 26, 2012 05:10am
What a bizarre situation this is that a supreme court judge talks like this! While I believe in the free judiciary and democracy, it is clear that both sides have no national interest in mind and they are only feeding their egoes. The people of Pakistan are witnessing a bizarre circus and it is very unfotunate that incompetent politicians, military and some components of judiciary are acting against the national interests.
Naseeb Alfred Jul 26, 2012 05:53am
i think you have not fully understood the article. try to read again. in fact the judges opinion is favoring the National interests.
Khalid Mahmood Jul 26, 2012 07:38am
I believe the Government can just get off the hook by writing to the Swiss authorities. Then it would appear that the Supreme Court has not compromised its position and the case would go nowhere any further. At the same time, Zardari would remain immune. In the end, it would demonstrate the limitation of judicial powers.
Baba Sidni Jul 26, 2012 07:56am
All I can say is "dar gaiy. Bari ho gaiy" . I don't know why?
kashif saif dhillon Jul 26, 2012 10:22am
why not the govt write letter to swiss authorities when president enjoys immunity... there are other issues of deep concern poverty and corruption which demands due attention.,,
Ashfaq Ibrahim Jul 26, 2012 08:04am
Very interesting, if Khosa did say Zardari has immunity, then re-instate Gilani. We all know Chief Justice's, tenure is coming to an end soon and is he indicating through Khosa an extension or some other appointment? from the execetive. It is all politics, judicary, legislature or execetive, they are all cut from the same cloth-as Musharraf once said "Sham Demoracy".
Rashid Ahmad Jul 26, 2012 08:20am
I do not believe in the question of immunity from law in case of a criminal act.. What would be the position of the Court if the President commited a murder?
Khalid M Rana Jul 26, 2012 08:30am
Judges have made it very cleary that Government has to withdraw the letter writen by ex attorny general Abdul Qayum as Government had not authorized him in writing. It ia a national issue and the world is watching .
zulfiqar Jul 26, 2012 08:35am
Achi Baat hay
Abdul Waheed Jul 26, 2012 09:58am
Justice Khosa seems to be a man of rational / logic. He is realizing the adverse consequences of confrontation between Executive and judiciary on the national economy/ Thats why he has softened his stand to come out of this grave and dangerous impasse