Supreme Court allowed PM Raja Pervez Ashraf time until September 18

In an apparent display of restraint and accommodation, the Supreme Court on Monday allowed Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf time until September 18 to write a letter to Swiss authorities pertaining to a money-laundering case in which President Asif Ali Zardari is also implicated.

The prime minister appeared before a five-member bench of the court in response to a July 12 show-cause notice on the issue. In a similar case the court had disqualified his predecessor Yousuf Raza Gillani for defying and ridiculing its orders.

The presiding judge, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, dispelled the impression that the Supreme Court wanted the government to initiate criminal proceedings against President Zardari in Switzerland who has claimed constitutional immunity.

Without naming the president, Justice Khosa observed: “We have neither asked you to seek reopening of a case against anybody nor do we want to oust prime ministers.”

Khosa said the government has simply to withdraw an earlier letter written in 2008 through which the Pakistan government had pulled out of its claim in the Swiss case allegedly involving $60 million of graft money in which Zardari’s name had also figured.

The impugned letter referred to the National Reconciliation Order (NRO) promulgated by military ruler General Pervez Musharraf pardoning dozens of corruption cases. It was annulled by the Supreme Court in December 2009.

Raja sought 4-6 weeks to consult legal advisers. The prime minister said he wanted to resolve the issue and would never like to be remembered in history as the one who defied court orders.

Raja evoked a laughter in the court when he pointed out that while his predecessor took four-and-a-half years in making his mind over the issue, he has been in office only for two months.

He said the case has gripped the whole nation and created an atmosphere of political and economic uncertainty.

Many expected the judges to announce on Monday that they would charge Ashraf with contempt for also refusing to write the letter.

But they gave the prime minister until September 18 to decide whether he would follow the court’s order after he argued he needed more time to find a way to resolve the crisis — an argument the government has made in the past when faced with similar deadlines.

“The government and I have full respect for the courts, and I have a strong desire to resolve this issue amicably so the prestige and respect of the judiciary is not only maintained, but is increased,” Ashraf said.

Stringent security measures were taken on the occasion and the entire Constitution Avenue, on which the Supreme Court is located, was sealed off restricting entry while two helicopters kept overing over the area.

One thought on “Supreme Court allowed PM Raja Pervez Ashraf time until September 18

  1. Aalia

    The superior judiciary is a country’s most honourable institution, the last pillar of justice and wisdom. When the SC was formulating its detailed National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) verdict implementation order, it allowed room for a middle way if differing views were to creep up between the judiciary and the executive. One of those was to let the people decide. In a situation where elections are just a few months away, providing the people with the opportunity to vote in whomsoever they wish to see at the helm of affairs seems a wise course. This is a precarious time for the development of democracy in Pakistan as it is the very first time a democratically elected government will be able to complete its term and hopefully pave the way for a peaceful transition through the ballot. In its infinite wisdom the court has already prescribed such a remedy. It would be in the best interest of all parties involved to leave affairs in the hands of the masses who have been riddled by bad politics and interventionist policies for too long. Let the matter be decided for a change in the court of the people.