A list of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) beneficiaries has been sent to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.
The list contains the names of 15 key government officials including Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani, Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar and Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza.
Sources added that the list of 270 beneficiaries does not include President Asif Ali Zardari. However, a list containing the president's name had been submitted in the Supreme Court earlier.
Updated from print edition (below)
Gilani defends president’s immunity
While the government refrained from disclosing the contents of the official report on the status of implementation of the apex court verdict on the National Reconciliation Ordinance, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Friday defended President Asif Ali Zardari’s right to immunity but asked other beneficiaries of the scrapped law to “voluntarily” quit public office.
Urging parliamentarians to protect their sovereignty, Gilani said: “The president is an integral part of parliament and he is the supreme commander of the armed forces. How can cases be reopened against the president when he enjoys immunity under Article 248 of the Constitution?” As the House was discussing the issue of Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s sentencing in the United States, the prime minister sought to unveil what can only be deemed as the policy the government intends to pursue in the coming days when the court will question it on the status of implementation of its decision.
“Half of his (the president’s) term has been completed and if it is necessary to reopen cases against him, they…should reopen cases after the expiry of immunity given to him under the Constitution,” he said giving a clear message to quarters concerned without specifying the receiver of the message.
Gilani, who recently asked the cabinet division to furnish a list of NRO beneficiaries holding public office, urged them to step down voluntarily. Among the beneficiaries of the law, enacted by former president Pervez Musharraf which was later annulled by the apex court, are a few members of Gilani’s cabinet and some close associates of President Zardari.
“What is parliament? It consists of the president, prime minister and the National Assembly and Senate, and non-existence of any of these three components would make it (parliament) incomplete,” he added.
Defending politicians, he said they had always been belittled on one pretext of the other. “It has become a common practice to level accusations against politicians without any proof.”
“Approach the courts if there is any complaint against us. We have faced the courts in the past and are ready even now,” Gilani said.
Referring to the issue of promotions of senior bureaucrats, the prime minister said that the Supreme Court’s verdict has been implemented in letter and spirit.
He said there were no rules regarding promotion of government officers from BPS-21 to BPS-22 and it was the discretion of the chief executive of the country to promote them.
However, he said, he had asked the Establishment Division to frame rules for their promotion on the direction of the Supreme Court and that he had implemented all recommendations made by the selection board for their promotions.
In a bid to defend the elevation of Kamran Lashari as the chief secretary of Sindh, Gilani said: “It is our duty to defend bureaucracy. I have constituted a committee to provide him an opportunity to submit his point of view. He is a senior bureaucrat. How can he go unheard?”
On Dr Aafia’s conviction, the prime minister said that the government is making serious efforts for her release and return to Pakistan.
“I have asked the interior minister to find a way, including an agreement (if possible) with the US government for the release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui,” Gilani said though he warned that the government did not want to create new legal issues.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 25th, 2010.
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