Islamabad, Sept. 26 (Xinhua-ANI): Pakistan’s top court Wednesday raised objections at the draft of a letter to be sent to the Swiss authorities for reopening graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari and gave a 10-day more time to the government to redraft the letter.
The five-member bench in its short order said that Oct. 5 will be the last chance for the government to remove reservations of the court at the contents of the letter.
Law Minister Farooq H Naek, who had submitted the draft before the Supreme Court, told reporters that the court raised some reservations at the letter and that they accepted his plea for more time to consult the prime minister.
“I am confident that we will succeed to find out a solution to the issue so that uncertainty in the country is ended,” the minister said.
Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf last week told the apex court that his government had decided to withdraw a letter previously sent to the Swiss authorities for closing graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. He had also assured the court that he would authorize the law minister to implement the court’s previous orders for writing to the Swiss authorities.
As the court resumed hearing on Wednesday, the law minister submitted the redrafted letter along with an authority letter on behalf of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. The court had also objected at the letter on Tuesday and gave one day to make correction but objections were again raised on Wednesday.
The judges adjourned the hearing to read contents of the letter at their chamber. The five-member bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, also later called on the law minister and the government’s lawyers inside the court chamber for consultations.
The law minister denied any secret deal with the judiciary and said the government wants there should be no clash among the state organs.
The draft seeks the withdrawal of letters written in May 22, 2008 by then attorney general Malik Qayyum to the Swiss authorities that Pakistan was no longer interested in pursuing graft charges against President Asif Ali Zardari and his late wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto following the promulgation of a controversial amnesty law by then military president Pervez Musharraf.
The Supreme Court, however, scrapped the National Reconciliation Ordinance in 2009 and declared that all cases closed under the defunct law stood open.
The government of Pakistan People’s Party and the judiciary had been involved in conflict over the Swiss letter as the government has refused to accept all previous court orders on the plea that the president enjoys immunity.
The apex court had disqualified Yusuf Raza Gilani as prime minister for his refusal to write to the Swiss authorities in June.
Prime Minister Ashraf’s statement to send a letter to the Swiss authorities was considered as a major step toward a solution to the long-standing stalemate between the government and the judiciary over the president’s graft cases in Switzerland.
Legal experts were also of the opinion that the decision is a big change in the government’s stand as it will open the way for reopening of the cases in Swiss courts. But some are of the view that it would be clear only after the letter is drafted. Several ministers also said there is no change in the government’s stance on the president’s immunity. (Xinhua-ANI)