NRO implementation: PM wins reprieve

Published: August 28, 2012

Apex court gives Raja Pervaiz Ashraf until Sept 18 to write Swiss letter; PM assures the court ‘genuine and serious’ steps will be taken.

Apex court gives Raja Pervaiz Ashraf until Sept 18 to write Swiss letter; PM assures the court ‘genuine and serious’ steps will be taken. Premier Ashraf waves while entering Supreme Court’s building for the hearing of NRO implementation case on Monday. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID/EXPRESS TRIBUNE
ISLAMABAD: 

Monday was a day of conciliatory gestures with the Supreme Court allowing Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf some elbow room to navigate a way out of the Swiss letter writing controversy and the government promising to preserve the superior judiciary’s sanctity and respect.

At least temporarily, PM Ashraf has escaped the fate of his deposed predecessor Yousaf Raza Gilani. On Monday, Ashraf was given a lifeline of 22 more days to ensure that the court ruling on the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) was implemented through the opening of graft cases against the president.

Although he wore a black sherwani similar to former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s attire on April 26 at the time of his unseating from parliament, Ashraf’s demeanour was not the same as that of his predecessor. Instead, his appearance mirrored the almost seismic shift in the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) stance. The supreme judiciary was assured that the letter, if written, would request the reopening of outstanding graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari and pledged that the sanctity and respect of the court would be preserved at all costs.

Subsequently, the five-judge bench of the Supreme Court – headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa – gave Prime Minister Ashraf until September 18 to appear before the court and come good on his assurances.

Assisted by several members of the cabinet, the law minister, deputy prime minister and senior party leaders at the Supreme Court premises, Premier Ashraf admitted to the mounting pressure of the Supreme Court and said that he now wanted to resolve the issue in a way that the dignity of the court could be preserved.

“I want to become role model. It is an honour for me to appear before the court today,” said Ashraf while insisting that he did not want to besmirch his name and figure in an ugly chapter of the country’s history.

“Being a political worker and a law abiding citizen, I want to ensure that the judiciary is respected. It is also the requirement of my office that respect of the judiciary be preserved.”

Former premier Gilani was tried, convicted and disqualified in the same case when he failed to ensure the implementation of court orders of writing a letter, as mentioned in paragraph 178 of the NRO judgment of the Supreme Court.

During Monday’s hearing, Justice Khosa appreciated the prime minister’s appearance before the court and told him: “The case of your predecessor is before you and we only want to see the implementation of our judgment, since real respect for the court is ensured by the implementation of its judgments.”

“Give us a positive commitment today, otherwise the law will take its course,” he told Ashraf.

The bench explained the court orders again and said that it only wanted the federal government to revoke former attorney general Malik Qayyum’s correspondence with the Swiss authorities after the NRO was declared illegal.

“It is up to you to give a new topic for discussion to the nation by resolving this issue,” Justice Khosa told him. “We don’t want to see you again and again in the court in this case and we are also not interested in unseating public representatives”.

In response, Premier Ashraf told the Supreme Court that he required at least four to six weeks to consult his legal team and allies to resolve the issue. “You gave Gilani four and half years to implement the ruling, and I have been a prime minister for just 60 days,” he said.

However, Justice Khosa retorted that the government had little choice in the matter because ultimately court rulings “must be implemented”.

Initially, the court wanted PM Ashraf to follow through on its order within two weeks but when the premier informed the bench of his impending tour of China the hearing was adjourned until Sept 18.

Justice Khosa replied that according to Article 90 of the Constitution, the premier could exercise executive authority and authorise someone else to implement the orders of writing the letter, be it the law minister or the attorney general. However, the premier said: “I am only a political worker and not a lawyer. I need to understand the case in order to resolve it.” He also requested the court to withdraw the show-cause notice issued against him in the case.

At the same time, the prime minister said that he wanted to resolve the case, not prolong it.

(Read: The case of the Swiss letter)

Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2012. 

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Reader Comments (9)

  • Mirza
    Aug 28, 2012 - 2:29AM

    Let us see how many cases the SC takes in these three weeks. Now they have time to catch up with the 20,000 plus cases rotting for hearing. The primary job of SC is not to hound and pound the elected govt for ancient cases but to take up the ancient cases themselves and does their primary job function for a change.

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  • Mirza
    Aug 28, 2012 - 2:33AM

    Is the PCO SC ever going to take the stay order off the Arsalan’s case? Is the SC ever going to take the stay order on cases against the Sharif brothers? When is the Abbottabad Commission report going to be announced by the PCO judge Iqbal? Is there going to be any decision on Asghar Khan’s case? Is there ever going to be a decision or verdict on the killings of Bloch youth or just political statements by the SC and the list goes on and on?

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  • Ali Nokhaiz
    Aug 28, 2012 - 2:40AM

    Why they are not writing the letter? Only because zardari belongs to ppp and the pm also belongs to ppp…is this the reason to save the president? Why not abiding the court’s order?

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  • Saleem
    Aug 28, 2012 - 3:03AM

    Let’s see if Raja Ashraf can reciprocate the same gesture that Supreme Court showed to him. Though I very much doubt that because Mr. Zardari has dragged his feet for so many years so that he come out clean from all the loot he has accumulated in overseas account. Swiss Court was about to indict Mr. & Mrs. Zardari when the couple desperately cut a NRO deal with Pakistani government so that cases against them in Swiss court could be dropped. There are rumors that after September those cases be time-barred and even if Government of Pakistan writes a letter to Swiss authorities cases will not be opened. Once again, Mr. Zardari seems to be a winner in this round – not because he is clean but due to a technicality. I wish this man has used his genius to do something positive for Pakistan.

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  • Aug 28, 2012 - 3:49AM

    This is weird, to be honest.

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  • Umar
    Aug 28, 2012 - 8:39AM

    Bad move; I guess justice is not blind after all !

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  • M.Ahmer Ali
    Aug 28, 2012 - 9:58AM

    This is wisdom,cleverness and august move and most especially importantly need of hour that new general elections’ date must be announced or letter to the Swiss authorities must be written to avoid removal/termination of present PM and more clashes/collapses with the Supreme Court by the PPP’s government instead of showing as usual contrary to not to write the letter and insisting on the completion of present government’s tenure.

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  • SSM
    Aug 28, 2012 - 1:53PM

    Judicial activism is in full boom! Respected SC please look for other cases as well… don’t loose your energy on one case.. anyway SC is not political party.

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  • DevilHunterX
    Aug 28, 2012 - 9:23PM

    Watch how the PPP surrender, will now defend their insane corrupt masters.Recommend

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