Supreme Court order: Reeling from blow, PPP mulls next move

Options include contesting arrest orders and opting for pre-arrest bail.

Irfan Ghauri January 16, 2013
A view of the Shahrah-e-Faisal traffic jam caused by angry mobs after the Supreme Court’s orders to arrest the prime minister. PHOTO: ONLINE


The Supreme Court’s order to arrest Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf came as a surprise for political forces in general – but was a particularly bitter blow for the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

As soon as the decision was announced, PPP leaders converged at the Prime Minister House to brainstorm, a discussion that continued late into the night on Tuesday.

Among the options discussed by the government’s legal team were going for pre-arrest bail in the Supreme Court, contesting the orders on grounds of interpretation and employing delaying tactics by using the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), as well as filing a review with an application to suspend orders till there is a decision on the review.

Thus far, the PPP leadership, along with its legal experts, remains tight-lipped about which option it will choose.

Law Minister Farooq H Naek claimed that the apex court’s order made no mention of Premier Ashraf’s arrest. He added that investigation did not lie in the domain of the court, and was the exclusive domain of the NAB chief.

Naek said that the NAB chairman is authorised to submit charge sheets and hold investigations under the National Accountability Ordinance.

In its order, the court stated that NAB Chairman Fasih Bokhari will be responsible if any accused in the Rental Power Projects (RPPs) case, including Premier Ashraf, leave the country. The court also asked NAB to submit a report after arresting all the accused.

A member of the cabinet said that Naek will be “playing a major role” in whatever legal remedy they opt for.  He added that the government will most likely go for Naek’s interpretation, and if need be, choose the bail option.

According to prominent legal expert SM Zafar, however, if the prime minister moves the court for bail, he’ll have to surrender himself for arrest first.

Privately, some members of the PPP pointed fingers at their own leaders, accusing them of gross mismanagement by ‘letting the situation get out of hand’.

Others directed their criticism at the Supreme Court order, calling it part of a ‘bigger conspiracy’ while vowing that the party will not bow down.

“I don’t see elections in the coming days. The schedule will be announced but no elections will take place in the near future,” a senior PPP leader said.

Most party members did not openly criticise the court decision – but an official statement issued by the PPP human rights cell, headed by Dr Nafisa Shah, spoke out against the decision and linked it to Dr Tahirul Qadri’s march.

PPP apprehensions

Several PPP leaders also anticipated more damning decisions from the courts in the coming days – particularly in the president’s dual office case, currently being heard by the Lahore High Court (LHC).

One of them said that it is likely that the president may opt to relinquish the office of co-chairman in the coming days and hand over party affairs to his son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

President Zardari has called a meeting of his allies in Karachi, while PML-N chief Mian Nawaz Sharif will be holding a meeting with the leadership of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl, Jamaat-e-Islami, and other parties, including Baloch nationalists in Lahore.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 16th, 2013. 


Ricky | 10 years ago | Reply

ZAB was not hanged by Gen Zia but by the LHC and SC judges. Those judges were responsible for Zia's long rule of terror, madarsa, gun, heroine and terrorism policy. Not a single incident when the SC has opposed the army takeover including the sitting PCO judges. It was till Gen Mush fired CJ, he was with the general under PCO. Since 1958 till Mush's takeover army and SC has worked in tandem to usurp power and committed multiple acts of high treason at will always getting away with.

Ah-ho Zaree | 10 years ago | Reply

PPP which believes in democracy should see also that the Army and the Judiciary have helped it stay in power despite national troubles, which have with time become severer. The Army might have made sure that all actors including Qadri have an equal opportunity of freedom to protest, which is part of democracy. And, the Army being interested in an impartial, competent caretaker government, which is a constitutional requirement, might want to serve as a “moderator of last resort” if the PPP and PML-N fail come up with an agreement on this issue or if they fail to have a really impartial and a truly competent caretaker setup. Since the PPP has almost completed its tenure and since it has really not governed effectively and has not been able to reduce national aggravations, which are commonly listed, and since most liberal democracies, especially that have parliamentary systems, resign when faced with such tremendous opposition (and failures), the PPP should follow best democratic traditions and hasten to set up caretaker arrangement and transfer power to it without inordinate delay. This should bring to rest the present tense national scene.

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