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SC refers plea against Zardari to CJP Iftikhar

19 September, 2013

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has referred a petition calling for preventing Asif Ali Zardari from leaving the country to chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) for constitution of a separate bench on it.

The federal government has requested the court to reject the petition against the former president. The petition had been filed by Shahid Orakzai. A three-judge bench headed by Anwar Zaheer Jamali and comprising Justice Ejaz Afzal and Justice Hameedur Rehman, while hearing the petition, said that the chief justice has the prerogative to decide about the bench. But since the chief justice is in Quetta the matter has been adjourned until next week.

Earlier, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz- (PML-N) led government requested the Supreme Court to reject the petition which states that Asif Ali Zardari should not be allowed to leave the country after the expiry of his tenure in office because he wilfully concealed sensitive information from the armed forces about the Abbottabad incident. During the hearing, Shahid Orakzai pleaded that his petition was about delinking his case from the main case of memo scandal.

Orakzai has asked the court to constitute a separate bench for the hearing of his petition about an inquiry into the conduct of ex-ambassador to US Husain Haqqani, in the Presidency in the memo scandal. Orakzai's stance is that his petition had no common question of law with petitions filed by Nawaz Sharif and his party's men. He stated that at the time of the Abbottabad operation, Farahnaz Isphani, wife of Husain Haqqani, was special assistant to then president Zardari.

He has prayed that the former president should not be allowed to leave the country as he willfully concealed sensitive information from the armed forces about the Abbottabad incident. On the other hand, submitting a reply to Orakzai's petition, the federal government has also strongly defended Zardari and his decision to convene a high-level meeting in the Presidency to probe Husain Haqqani in front of the army chief and ISI director general.

The government, through the Law Ministry, submitted that "the apprehension of the petitioner/applicant about departure of the incumbent (now former) president of Islamic Republic of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari in view of inquiry by the commission constituted on the matter of Abbottabad incident is misconceived and completely against realities. It is humbly prayed that application may be dismissed with special cost."

In its reply the government has stated that the meeting in question which was held on November 12, 2011 and convened by the president in the President's Secretariat was not unconstitutional. It is to be noted that the meeting was attended by then president Asif Ali Zardari, then prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, army chief General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani, then DG ISI Lt Gen Shuja Pasha and Husain Haqqani. The government also stated that the attendance of president in the November 12 meeting was not unconstitutional and no fundamental right of the petitioner has been infringed by this act of military officers and the attendance of then president.

The reply further said that "as regards the venue of meeting at President's Secretariat or Aiwan-e-Sadr, it is submitted that the president of Pakistan is the head of state and represents the unit of state in term of Article 41(1) of the constitution, therefore, in view of such dignity attached to the office of president of Pakistan the meeting of the court of inquiry might have rightly been held at the President's Secretariat. The memo case has been pending in the apex court since November 2011.

End.

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