Supreme Court of Pakistan. — Photo by AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a show-cause notice for contempt of court to Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf over his failure to implement its directive of writing a letter to Swiss authorities to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari, DawnNews reported.

“We hereby issue a notice to Prime Minister Raja Pervez show cause why he may not be proceeded against for committing contempt,” the court said in its short order.
“We issue notice to Raja Pervez Ashraf under (the) contempt of court act 2003, read with article 204 of the constitution to show cause as to why he may not be proceeded (against) in contempt of court and (is) not complying (with the) relevant direction of the court,” Justice Khosa said.

“He shall appear in person at the next date of hearing. Hearing adjourned until August 27,” the judge added.

Dictating the order, Justice Khosa moreover said that Yousuf Raza Gilani was disqualified for failing to implement the court's directives.

The order said that Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf was also given a similar directive, adding that, the July ruling had said that failure to implement court orders would lead to initiation of proceedings.

The short order said it was unfortunate that the prime minister had failed to implement the court's directives, adding that, the government had also failed to submit a report in this regard.

The order added that on July 25 the attorney general had requested for time until Aug 8, adding that, during the previous hearing of the case, the court was not provided with proper assistance.

Today's proceedings

A five-judge special bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, heard the case on Wednesday.

During the hearing, Attorney General Irfan Qadir read out the apex court's directive of July 25.

Qadir said the government was taking serious steps to resolve the issue, adding that, more time was required to arrive at a settlement.

The attorney general requested the bench to take up the matter after Eidul Fitr and asked if the case could be adjourned until the first week of September.

Upon which, Justice Ejaz said that enough time had been given to the government in order to formulate a response in this regard.

The attorney general said that given the government's ongoing efforts, the gulf between the two state institutions would cease to exist.

Addressing the attorney general, Justice Khosa said that the bench could not move an inch away from its decision.

He moreover asked the attorney general as to why the government had failed to arrive at a decision in spite of being given enough time to do so.

PPP's stance on the letter

Earlier on Tuesday, the Pakistan People’s Party had decided it would not write a letter to Swiss authorities for reopening cases against President Asif Zardari and would ‘resist’ actions by the Supreme Court within bounds of the Constitution.

The PPP’s frontline leaders met in the presidency on Tuesday night and chalked out a strategy to cope with the situation if the Supreme Court showed the door to the prime minister for contempt of court over not obeying its orders in connection with writing the letter.

Inside sources told Dawn on Tuesday that PPP leaders were hopeful that the prime minister would survive for two to three months even if the apex court ordered his removal.

The (previous) July 25 hearing

During the previous hearing of the NRO implementation case, the Supreme Court had suggested to the government to find a way out of the impasse between the executive and the judiciary.

During the July 25 hearing of the case, the 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 Zardari enjoyed immunity from prosecution in criminal cases.

“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 in his order of July 25. 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.”

Letter to Swiss authorities

Earlier on June 27, the bench had given the new prime minister two weeks to indicate whether he would ask Swiss authorities to reopen a corruption case against President Zardari.

The court had on June 19 dismissed Yousuf Raza Gilani as prime minister after convicting him of contempt in April for refusing to reopen the multi-million-dollar case against the president.

Raja Pervez Ashraf was later elected as the new prime minister.

The allegations against President Zardari date back to the 1990s, when he and his late wife, former premier Benazir Bhutto were suspected of using Swiss bank accounts to launder $12 million allegedly paid in bribes by companies seeking customs inspection contracts.

The Swiss shelved the case in 2008 when Zardari became president and the government had been insisting that the president has full immunity.

But in 2009 the Supreme Court overturned the NRO, a political amnesty that had frozen investigations into the president and other politicians, ordering that the cases be reopened.



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