NRO implementation case: Giving Qayyum legal cover, govt readies new strategy

Published: July 22, 2012
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Will plead that then AG wrote Swiss letter in 2007 with full support of executive.

Will plead that then AG wrote Swiss letter in 2007 with full support of executive.

ISLAMABAD: 

The government is set to aggressively defend itself before the Supreme Court in the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) implementation case on July 25, with a new strategy: pleading that the then attorney general had written a letter to Swiss authorities with the support of all executive authorities in 2007.

Sources privy to the development told The Express Tribune that, this time, a legal team of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) regime will exhaust all options, contrary to their strategy in the past when it did not defend its case, leaving the field open.

“A legal team has prepared a comprehensive response. This includes a summary from the law ministry. A Sindh High Court judgment will also be cited to substantiate government case,” a legal wizard of the government said.

On Wednesday, the apex court will resume hearing the NRO implementation case for which Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has been given a deadline to explain his position regarding writing a letter to Swiss authorities to re-open graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

The graft cases were shelved in 2007 after then attorney-general Malik Qayum wrote letters to the Swiss authorities following the promulgation of the NRO. The Supreme Court, however, scrapped the NRO in 2009 and declared that all cases closed under the defunct law stood open.

Fearing criticism, the PPP government did not put up a strong defence in the NRO case. However, following the ouster of former premier Yousaf Raza Gilani last month and with the future of Prime Minister Ashraf in the air, the regime has decided to fight the case with a renewed strategy.

A showdown is expected on July 25, as the PPP government has given legitimacy to all “communications” made by Qayyum to the Swiss authorities requesting the closure of cases against President Zardari.

In her note, Law Secretary Yasmeen Abbasi had intimated to all government departments that the former attorney general’s communication was lawful and there was no need to file a reference or take any action against him since the NRO was a valid law when Qayyum requested Swiss authorities for withdrawal of Pakistan’s claim as civil (damaged) party status.

Attorney General Irfan Qadir confirmed the development and told The Express Tribune that he had initiated the process when he was law secretary, but soon after that he was made attorney-general and the remaining process was completed by his predecessor. Qadir further said he also informed the Supreme Court about the development.

In 2009, a 17-judge bench termed Qayyum’s communication with Swiss authorities “illegal and void,” and asked the government to proceed against him for his “illegal” communication.

A legal expert told The Express Tribune that now even if a letter is written to the Swiss authorities it would not have any effect on the closed cases against President Zardari because Swiss authorities will deem Qayyum’s communication as lawful since it was backed by the government.

Malik Qayyum’s reply

In his written reply to the National Accountability Bureau, Malik Qayyum, who is currently in London, insisted he had not done anything unlawful.

His reply, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, reveals that the federal government, foreign office, law ministry and NAB were in the picture when the letters were written.

He also said that he complied with Supreme Court and Sindh High Court orders to implement the NRO.

According to Qayyum’s reply, then Pakistani ambassador to Germany Ayesha Riaz forwarded the letters to the Swiss authorities.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2012.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Mirza
    Jul 22, 2012 - 10:15AM

    Ignoring 20 thousand cases the SC judges are busy in exercise in futility just because they do not like election results. Recommend

  • Not me
    Jul 22, 2012 - 11:26AM

    All this to defend ill gotten wealth?

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  • Faffy
    Jul 22, 2012 - 12:15PM

    @Mirza: why not cut the root from where most of these 20000 parasitic branches have mashroomed?

    Recommend

  • Nasir Mahmood
    Jul 22, 2012 - 12:47PM

    Supreme Court should implement its decision with full force to eradicate corruption roots.

    Recommend

  • MN
    Jul 22, 2012 - 1:25PM

    @Faffy: these 20,000 cases are the genuine cases pending in Supreme Court nothing to do with the NRO Mr. Genius.

    Recommend

  • Beatle
    Jul 22, 2012 - 1:27PM

    I don’t think the APEX is going to consider any arguments, and will insist on govt response to a simple single question, whether or not its going to write a letter, and why? Any if, but and so will be thrown out of the pre-determined court.

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  • ishrat salim
    Jul 22, 2012 - 1:32PM

    Mirza Sb…the result of the election is for all to see…go to the street anywhere in Pakistan & ask the poor guy in the street & you will get the answer…keep yr bloated obsession of the judiciary to yr self..pls.The govt contacted former PCO judges namely Mr Shabbar Raza, Qal-be-Husain & Ahsan Bhoon to plead the case of NRO….so what do you say ? ask yr govt why hv they contacted mentioned PCO judges to takeup the case ?Recommend

  • Shakeel Ilmi
    Jul 22, 2012 - 4:31PM

    I am baffled. If the NRO was law at the time the letter was written 2007 and NRO was struck down in 2009, how can the Supreme Court order action against Malik Qayyum. Seems to me a simple case of ‘if you want to get to Zardari you have to go through Malik Qayyum.’ Not too impressed by the Supreme Court.

    Recommend

  • Hyper Baig
    Jul 22, 2012 - 4:39PM

    I think its a questions of settling personal vendettas with the SC more than not liking the election results Mirza saab. And finally it seems the governemnt is taking a rationale stand rather than hiding behind ‘I was informed to do because Nargis Sethi or Babur Awan said so” Bu hoooooo.

    Recommend

  • FP
    Jul 22, 2012 - 8:59PM

    Round 2 starts on 25th July.

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  • Mirza
    Jul 23, 2012 - 8:57AM

    @ishrat salim:
    Sir, the govt has also appointed an ex judge as CEC by consensus with opposition. You got it totally upside down and not right. The govt is not using PCO judges as judges; they are retaining the retired judges as their lawyers and use their expertise to plead the case against their fellow PCO justices. Who would know more about NRO and PCO than the judges who have taken oaths under them including the CJ? Why not hire them as lawyers to argue with their fellow judges looking in their eyes? This must be irksome to the PCO judges for sure.
    Regards,
    Mirza

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