It would seem that the court’s patience is stretched; but the government is confident it can still eke out more time.
Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf will seek more time for writing a letter to Swiss authorities to revive graft charges against President Asif Zardari when he appears on Tuesday before a Supreme Court bench hearing National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) implementation case.
On the last day of hearing, the court had granted a rather generous period of over three weeks time to the prime minister to think about the matter.
Tuesday will be Premier Ashraf’s second appearance before the five-judge bench in a case in which his predecessor Yousaf Raza Gilani was charged with the contempt of court and subsequently removed from the office.
The decision to send the premier to the court and plead for more time was taken at a meeting of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and its allied groups on Monday, chaired by President Asif Ali Zardari.
A handout statement issued by the president’s media office said all the coalition partners would accompany the premier to the Supreme Court as a mark of solidarity, like they did last time in end August.
Though the statement was silent about what position the prime minister would take, insiders told The Express Tribune that he might use his visit to China and flooding in various parts of the country as pretext for seeking more time. “The premier will request the bench to give him some more weeks to understand the case because he has been too busy to seek briefing on it since the last hearing,” one of the participants said, saying there won’t be any confrontation.
Without mentioning what was the reason for his conviction, a top leader from one of the allied parties claimed both sides — the government and the court — would avoid taking a hard-line stance and the day might pass smoothly, like last time. “There will be good news tomorrow. Rest assured, there will be no confrontation.” said another participant, without giving any further details.
According to the statement, Spokesperson to the President Senator Farhatullah Babar said a host of issues were also discussed during the meeting with the president – including the floods, energy issues, the factory fires in Karachi and Lahore, as well as the violence resulting from an anti-Islam film. The spokesperson said the meeting condemned the anti-Islam film and called it an act of grave provocation.
The spokesperson said that coalition partners reiterated their full support to the government.
However, the ‘coaliton’ was a few parties short
PML-F refuse to attend
The Pakistan Muslim League functional (PML-F) and its likeminded parties who recently parted ways with the ruling coalition over the Sindh local government ordinance did not attend the meeting convened by President Zardari. National Peoples Party (NPP) also excused itself.
It may be mentioned here that President Zardari had personally telephoned Pir Pagara on Sunday inviting his party to participate in the meeting to discuss strategy on the prime minister’ hearing in the Supreme court. Pagara asked Zardari to let him to consult with his party and other friends. But he later refused.
“We are seeking another partner out of the ruling coalition,” Imtiaz Shaikh, Secretary General PML-F, Sindh, said, adding that different political parties have approached them, and they will soon announce an election alliance. He said that members of PML Q (Likeminded), which is led by former Sindh chief minister Dr Arbab Ghulam, called on Pir Pagara a couple of days ago and wanted an election alliance.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2012.
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