If the interim administration comes into power before the NRO implementation case is resolved, it will have another issue to deal with apart from overseeing the parliamentary polls – which is pressure from the Supreme Court on writing the Swiss letter.
Experts say the Constitution does not distinguish between an elected premier and a caretaker prime minister and the Supreme Court has every right to issue the same directives to an interim chief executive.
There are, however, questions of morality on whether an administration that holds office for only a few months should be dragged into critical political issues such as the question of writing a letter to Swiss authorities to open graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.
A Supreme Court lawyer Salman Akram Raja says the interim administration is obliged to implement the court’s orders and maintains this could be the way out for both the ruling party and the judiciary. “PPP can have the satisfaction of not writing the letter while the court can eventually see its orders being carried out.”
Adviser to the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, Azhar Amrohi also concurs with Raja’s views. “There is absolutely no difference in the constitutional powers bestowed upon an elected and interim prime minister.”
Question of morality
PPP stalwart Senator Raza Rabbani opines the Supreme Court should be wary of issuing any such orders to an interim government.
“It will be ethically and morally wrong on the part of a caretaker premier to write a letter to Swiss authorities if so directed by the Supreme Court.”
He feels the caretaker setup is only obliged to hold free and fair elections and
should not take any decisions which could have long-term implications. His fellow PPP member Amrohi, however, maintains the Supreme Court’s job is to interpret the constitution and not take into account political and moral issues.
The largest opposition party the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz is understandably eager to see a letter being dispatched from Islamabad to Swiss authorities. However, it does not want the interim administration to come under fire for it.
“The letter has to be written and someone will have to write it … but we do not want the interim administration to be pressurised into it,” said PML-N Deputy Information Secretary Khurram Dastgir Khan.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2012.
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