ISLAMABAD: The decades-old Swiss case saga has finally ended in favour of President Asif Ali Zardari after Swiss authorities informed the government that a corruption case involving him cannot be reopened in their country on legal grounds.
According to sources, the Swiss attorney general, in reply to a letter sent by the government three months back, told the law ministry that the case could not be reopened because it had become time-barred under the Swiss law.
The government had written the letter to Swiss legal authorities in the first week of November last year in line with the Supreme Court’s order in the NRO case seeking revival of the case accusing President Zardari of receiving kickbacks in the award of a pre-shipment contract to a Swiss company in 1994.
The letter, addressed to the Swiss attorney general, had been sent through the Foreign Office and Pakistan’s embassy in Switzerland.
Submitting a copy of the letter before the apex court, Law Minister Farooq Naek had said that there had been no change in the draft approved by the five-judge bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, during the hearing of the NRO judgment implementation case on Oct 10.
Approving the draft presented by the minister, the court had given the government five weeks to send the letter to Swiss authorities.
Through the letter, signed by Law Secretary Justice (retd) Yasmin Abbasey, the government had sought withdrawal of a letter written by former attorney general Malik Abdul Qayyum to his Swiss counterpart Daniel Zappelli on May 22, 2008, telling him that the Pakistan government was withdrawing the mutual legal assistance in the graft case against Mr Zardari after promulgation of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) by former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf.
“This is with reference to the letter dated 22nd May, 2008, addressed by Malik Mohammad Qayyum, the then attorney general of Pakistan, to Mr Daniel Zappelli, Attorney General, Geneva, Switzerland.
“In view of the directives given by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in Paragraph 178 (copy attached as Annex-I) of its judgment dated Dec 16 December, 2009, in the case of Dr Mobashir Hasan, reported as PLD 2010 SC 265, the aforesaid letter is hereby withdrawn and may be treated as never written and, therefore, revival of requests, status and claims, is sought,” the draft approved by the SC and read out by Justice Khosa in the court while dictating the order said.
The letter had not only asked for reopening the $60 million case against the president but also emphasised at the same time the legal protection and immunity available to him, without mentioning constitutional provisions.
The NRO case that had gripped the country for over 30 months had finally come to an end when the Supreme Court approved the government’s letter – after having rejected three previous drafts – it had ordered while hearing the case about implementation of its verdict against the NRO.