Govt to withdraw Qayyum's letter, next hearing on Sept 25
18 September, 2012
ISLAMABAD: PM Raja Pervez Ashraf has told the SC of Pakistan that the federal government has directed the Law Ministry to withdraw a letter written, by the ex-attorney general Malik Qayyum, to the Swiss authorities for the withdrawal of graft cases against the president.
Meanwhile, Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday gave the government time till September 25 to write the letter to Swiss authorities and exempted PM Ashraf from appearing until next orders.
A five-member bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa heard the case, a private TV channel reported. It may be recalled that the former Attorney General of Pakistan Malik Qayyum in 2008 wrote a letter to Swiss authorities seeking withdrawal of all corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.
The court also said that a draft of the letter should also be prepared in two to three days and that the court be informed accordingly. Justice Khosa said that court may sit again day after tomorrow to review the progress but the prime minister requested that next hearing should be fixed by the end of this month.
The PM also requested the court to grant him exemption from appearance at the court to which the court agreed. Upon this the federal Law Minister Farooq Naek said he also needs more time to write the letter but the bench adjourned the hearing till September 25.
The bench observed that the next step after withdrawal of Malik Qayyum's letter will be to write a letter about reopening of cases closed under defunct National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). The bench ordered that the letter should be handed over to the Swiss attorney general and the court be informed accordingly.
Earlier, the prime minister arrived at the premises of Supreme Court of Pakistan to appear before a five-member bench hearing NRO implementation case as the deadline given to the prime minister write a letter to the Swiss authorities for reopening of graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari ended today.
As the hearing began the prime minister at the outset thanked the bench that granted him a three-week at the earlier hearing. The bench also appreciated the positive attitude shown by the prime minister. Various leaders including Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain of Q-League Haji Adeel of Awami National Party (ANP), Farooq Sattar of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Syed Naveed Qamar and Firdous Ashiq Awan, Punjab governor Sardar Latif Khosa have also arrived at the Supreme Court.
It should be mentioned here that allies of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) decided in a meeting held late last night with President Zardari in the chair that the premier will appear before the court and plead for more time. During his previous appearance before the bench on August 27, the PM Raja solicited more time from the court as he was going abroad on China visit on which the court granted him time till September 18.
Emerging from the courtroom, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira said that those who want clash between the national institutions are frustrated and disappointed today after the court adjourned the NRO case till September 25. Federal Interior Minister Rehman A. Malik said tension prevalent in the country has worn off after today's proceedings.
It is pertinent to mention that on August 15, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa had told that the court never asked the government to prosecute the president but to tell the Swiss authorities that not only parliament has rejected the NRO, but also the highest court of the country struck it down and, therefore ignore the letter written by Malik Qayyum.
The court said that they were not asking the government for mutual assistance but to tell the Swiss authorities that Malik Qayyum was not authorised to close the cases in Switzerland.
The SC last month issued a contempt notice to Prime Minister Ashraf for not implementing its order of writing a letter to the Swiss authorities to reopen a money-laundering case against President Zardari.
The apex court on August 27 granted PM Ashraf time till September 18 after he assured to take genuine and serious steps to resolve the issue.
Prime Minister Ashraf had assured the court that he was serious in resolving the issue and sought six weeks time period to understand the constitutional and legal aspects of the case and to engage his counsel to submit his reply over the show cause notice issued to him, therefore, he might be granted time to make sincere efforts in this regard.
Justice Asif Saeed Khosa dispelled the impression that the prime minister had to write the letter and stated that the PM office had to authorize someone like the law minister to implement the court's order.
Last night, a meeting of the heads of coalition parties was held at the Aiwan-e-Sadr with Co-Chairman PPP President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in chair.
Spokesperson to the President Senator Farhatullah Babar informed that Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf will appear before the Supreme Court today (Tuesday) and the coalition partners, he said, decided to accompany the PM to the SC as a mark of solidarity.