Islamabad, Sep 19: The saga of the Swiss letter must end, said a leading Pakistani daily Wednesday, a day after Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf told the Supreme Court that the government has decided to withdraw a letter sent to Swiss authorities during Pervez Musharraf’s tenure to close corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.
An editorial in the Dawn said that the “middle way appears to have been found”.
“The government has agreed to write a letter to Switzerland that will override the 2008 letter sent by the Musharraf-era attorney general Malik Qayyum, which cancelled all Pakistan government links to and interest in the investigations in Switzerland against, among others, Zardari,” it said.
The Supreme Court gave the prime minister time till Sep 25 to write to Swiss authorities to reopen the corruption cases.
The daily, however, noted: “In a sense, though, perhaps not much has changed.”
“…the only thing that appears certain at this stage is that the PPP has managed to win yet more time for itself. Whether a letter will eventually be despatched to Switzerland will depend much on the language the government is willing to use and that the court is willing to accept,” it added.
Stating that there could yet be more twists ahead, it stressed: “The saga of the Swiss letter must end.”
The daily cautioned that “quibbling over details or creating new hurdles at this late stage – particularly with elections so close – would be counterproductive”.
“If anything, the first uninterrupted civilian-to-civilian transfer of power in decades is within touching distance and the campaign season should be dominated by real issues, not power struggles between institutions that have little to do with the wellbeing of the public,” it said.
Accused of graft, Zardari was granted amnesty under the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) in 2007 by then president Pervez Musharraf to facilitate his return home from exile, and primarily that of his wife, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
Zardari and Bhutto were suspected of using Swiss accounts to launder about $12 million in alleged bribes paid by companies seeking customs inspection contracts in the 1990s.
The NRO that granted immunity to politicians and bureaucrats in corruption cases was struck down by the Supreme Court as void in 2009.