We seem to have become caught up again in the same tangled web, which had ensnared our last prime minister and brought him down. Is Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf now headed for a similar fate? We can only hope that this is not the case given the instability it would cause. Additionally, it would make us the laughing stock before the world due to the farcical nature of the entire situation. We seem to be going round and round on a circular route, with no means to escape. It is rather like being trapped on a merry-go-round that refuses to stop.
In the latest chapter of the NRO saga, the government wrote to the Supreme Court stating that it was unable to write the letter to Swiss authorities, as this would be a violation of the Constitution, which grants immunity to the president of the country. The reply to the Supreme Court emphasises the fact that the government is responsible for safeguarding the Constitution and if it has to write the letter seeking the reopening of cases, it would require the consent of the whole cabinet as the letter cannot be written by the prime minister acting on his own. This response was placed before the Supreme Court one day before Mr Ashraf was to appear before it. The line taken by the government’s legal team on the matter does not, however, appear to have impressed the Court. The Court has rejected the reply and suggested that a review petition may have been a more appropriate way to respond. It also stated that immunity for the president under the Constitution exists only as far as official acts are concerned.
We have then another stand-off between the Supreme Court and the government. This is not a pleasant situation to be in, all the more so given our experiences over the last months and how the tussle effectively clogged up the system, rendering it ineffective. We seem to be locked in the same situation again. The Court has given the prime minister until August 8 to write the letter to be dispatched to Geneva. We can for now only wonder how things will evolve or what the final outcome will be.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2012.