ISLAMABAD: While the government consented to write to Swiss authorities regarding graft cases against the president on September 18, it gave away nothing as to the tone and content of the letter during court proceedings.
It was not immediately clear what prompted the prime minister to relent before the Supreme Court on a stand that has cost the ruling party no less than a sitting prime minister.
A day after the unexpected consent, Attorney General Irfan Qadir came forward with a few comments providing some insight on the matter – saying that the government will refer to the president’s immunity in the letter. He added that the Supreme Court has, in fact, accepted the constitutional clause granting immunity to the president.
Talking to journalists outside the Supreme Court, Qadir added that the letter would be written, but in accordance with the relevant clauses of the Constitution.
Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on Tuesday authorised Law Minister Farooq H Naek to withdraw the letter written to Swiss authorities which had expressed the desire to withdraw Pakistan as a party in graft cases involving President Asif Ali Zardari. The court had insisted that the letter, written back in 2007 by then attorney general Malik Muhammad Qayyum as part of the controversial Nation Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), be withdrawn. It has now granted the premier time till September 25 to produce a draft of the communication to this effect.
On June 19, the apex court had disqualified former premier Yousaf Raza Gilani on June 19 after he was convicted of contempt of court following his refusal to write the letter.
The allegations against Zardari date from the 1990s, when he and his wife, former prime minister (late) Benazir Bhutto, were accused of using Swiss bank accounts to launder $12 million.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 20th, 2012.