Standoff over Swiss case: Legal minds yet to find 'solution'
17 September, 2012
ISLAMABAD: In view of opposition from senior leaders of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), the government's legal team is still unable to find a way to end a standoff between the judiciary and the executive over writing a letter to Swiss authorities for reopening graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.
Sources revealed that the government's legal team was unable to resolve the Swiss letter issue due to opposition from the PPP leaders who believed that writing the letter would badly affect the party.
Earlier, one group of the party, including members of its legal team, urged the party's leadership to write letter to Swiss authorities, arguing that claiming international immunity for President Asif Ali Zardari at this stage would be easy for the government and that it might lose control over the contents of the letter during the tenure of the caretaker government.
The sources said the government had also contacted Wasim Sajjad for appearing as counsel for Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf tomorrow (Tuesday), which showed that it had decided not to write letter to Swiss authorities.
They also said that the government was likely to make a request to the Supreme Court for further time because its motive would be to prolong the proceedings. "Important meeting about evolving final strategy regarding this matter will be held at the Presidency today (Monday)," they added.
Unlike former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani's contempt of court case, the court on August 25 looked flexible for the incumbent premier as it asked him to authorise either Law Minister Farooq H Naek or the attorney general to resolve the matter regarding the implementation of para 178 of the NRO judgement about reopening of Swiss cases against the president.
The sources said a group of senior parliamentarians close to former premier Gilani had opposed any proposal regarding the writing of letter and pressured the government to stick to its stance of not writing the letter on any condition.
This group argues that if the government agrees to write a letter, how would the ruling party justify it before its workers, who believe that writing letter to Swiss authorities will be tantamount to trial of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto's grave.
They also question that if the legal team is urging the prime minister to write the letter, "why it did not give this proposal to former prime minister Gilani, who was disqualified by the Supreme Court in the same case".
Likewise, a number of PPP leaders believe that the Supreme Court's "coercive action" against the incumbent prime minister would boost the party's popularity in southern Punjab and Sindh before the general election and, therefore, the government should stick to its stance of not writing to Swiss authorities.
Senior lawyer Tariq Mahmood said the NRO implementation case had become political and therefore its fallout would also be political. He said that further proceedings in the case would destabilise the country's economy. The judiciary's morale had been weakened due to Dr Arsalan case, he added.