NRO case: Swiss letter gets SC go-ahead

Court gives federation November 10 deadline for sending letter to Swiss authorities.

Web Desk/Sunara Nizami October 10, 2012

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan approved the Swiss letter draft submitted by the law minister which states that proceedings in Swiss courts will be conditional to the immunity granted to the president, Express News reported on Wednesday.

The draft also stated that Malik Qayyum's letter written to the attorney general of Geneva be retracted and considered "never written".

Restoration of legal assistance was also a point made in the draft.

As per the court’s directives, Law Minister Farooq H Naek submitted a new Swiss letter draft in the Supreme Court in today's hearing.

Naek also requested the court to retract the contempt of court notice issued to Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to which Justice Khosa told him to let this matter be resolved first.

When Khosa inquired how long it would take for the letter to be sent, the law minister said that it needed to be translated into French first and would be sent through the Foreign Office.

Naek requested for four weeks' time which was granted by the court.

The hearing was adjourned till November 15.

Speaking to the media after the hearing, Naek said that the court had given a November 10 deadline to the federation for sending the letter to authorities.

"Today, para 178 of the  case of Dr Mubashir Hasan has been implemented," said Naek, adding that four weeks had been granted for sending the letter.

"The letter states that Malik Qayyum's letter be withdrawn and our reservations are without prejudice to the rights, the legal rights, to the defenses of the president of Pakistan, to the heads of state, under the law, under the constitution and under the international law," Naek told the media.

He also said that no trial was being held, because there was no case in "that country's court".

"There was no case there in the past, there is no case now and nor will there be any case there in the future; hence a trial is out of the question," he said, adding that there had only been investigations and no case had proceeded in any court there.

Answering queries of national wealth being looted, Naek said that nothing of the sort had happened.

When asked what had happened behind closed doors, he said that everything had been done with transparency and no under-handedness had taken place.

"They summoned me as a law minister and expressed their reservations and I expressed mine and the federation's," said Naek.

During the hearing, the five-member bench had retreated to the judges’ chambers to deliberate over the draft submitted.

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, who is heading the bench, read the draft aloud in court after returning from the chambers and deemed the letter ready to be sent to Swiss authorities.

In the previous hearing, the bench was convinced of the changes in the first two paragraphs of the revised letter; however, it expressed concern at the last paragraph, saying that it contradicted the first two paragraphs.

The government had also challenged the apex court on the process of drafting and sending the communiqué.

The move came after weeks of extensive consultations on several drafts of the letter, some behind closed doors – and a day before the fourth deadline set by the court for writing to Swiss authorities to seek the revival of graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

Last month, after years of sparring, the executive and the judiciary deadlock saw a breakthrough when Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf agreed to write the letter, and assigned the task to Law Minister Farooq H Naek.

Full text of the letter:
Attorney General                                                          Islamabad October 2012

Geneva,

Switzerland

Re: PP/11105/1997 and CP 289/97.


Dear Sir,

This is with reference to the letter dates 22nd May 2008 addressed by Malik Mohammad Qayyum. The then Attorney General of Pakistan to Mr Daniel Zappelli, Attorney General, Geneva, Switzerland.

In view of the directions given by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in Paragraph 198 (copy attached as Annex-I) of its judgment dated 16th December 2009 in the case of Dr Mobashir Hasan, reported as PLD 2010 SC 265, the aforementioned letter is hereby withdrawn and may be treated as never written and therefore revival of requests, status and claims, is sought.

This is without prejudice to the legal rights and defences of the Presidents/ Heads of State which may be available under the law, constitution and international law.

The full text of the Supreme Court's order in the Swiss letter case can be viewed here.

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COMMENTS (39)

a m malik | 7 years ago | Reply | Recommend

Switzerland boasts of three official languages. One of them happens to be English. Was it nec to have the letter written in French? Again it is a max of one day's job - why four weeks? and last , was the letter written by Justice(R) Abdul Qayyum in French or English. Who was the official translator for him?

Justin Truthful | 7 years ago | Reply | Recommend

So, now what happens to the Swiss money?

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