After over two years of dilly-dallying on an apex court order to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari in Switzerland’s courts, the embattled government has apparently relented.
The PPP-led government has agreed to write to the Swiss authorities before January 16 seeking reopening of cases against the incumbent president in compliance with the 2009 Supreme Court order nullifying the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), sources told The Express Tribune.
The government has also agreed to grant a key opposition demand and announce the parliamentary election schedule upon completion of new electoral rolls and finalisation of the makeup of an interim set-up.
At a recent meeting, opposition parties agreed in principle on a blueprint for the next election. However, they decided to meet again to discuss their plan before presenting it to the PPP-led coalition government.
According to sources, the government has conveyed to JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif that it is willing to write a letter to the Swiss authorities in compliance with the apex court order and call an early election, as is being demanded by opposition parties.
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani is to announce the election schedule as soon as the new voter lists are finalised which, officials say, would take another three months to complete. This means the election would be held in August or September.
Maulana Fazlur Rehman, whose JUI-F had parted ways with the ruling coalition in 2010 following differences with the government, has been assigned to pursue the government for an early finalisation of the new voter lists.
The PML-N is in no mood to move a no-confidence vote against the prime minister nor will its lawmakers resign from the assemblies en masse. Nawaz has confided in senior leaders of his party that he was using these threats as pressure tactics against the government, sources said.
The government has proposed that Aitzaz Ahsan could lead the interim set-up, sources said, adding that most opposition parties have apparently agreed to the choice. However, they decided to meet again to finalise the name of the caretaker prime minister and makeup of an independent election commission.
Sources in the PPP also confirmed to The Express Tribune that the government has decided in principle to write a letter to the Swiss authorities. In the letter, the government would state that, although it believes President Zardari enjoys constitutional immunity, it wrote the letter in the best interest of the country and democracy and not doing so would have jeopardise democracy in Pakistan.
When contacted, PPP Central Information Secretary Qamar Zaman Kaira suggested that some activity was underway – adding that his party’s legal team was working on the issue and would soon suggest a way out.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2012.