The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday gave Prime Minister Raja Parvez Ashraf time till July 25 to comply with its order to write to the Swiss authorities asking them to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.
Taking a dim view of the Prime Minister’s response to the court’s question whether he intended to write the letter, a five-judge Bench noted that if he failed to comply by July 25, “this court may initiate any appropriate action under the Constitution and the law.’’
Presenting the Premier’s response to the court’s query, the Attorney-General said the federal Cabinet had referred the matter to the Law Ministry. Pointing out that the process of consultation was undertaken during the tenure of the former Prime Minister, Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, the court said, “We are constrained to observe that we find it difficult to appreciate or accept the said response of the Prime Minister.’’
The seven-page order passed in the National Reconciliation Ordinance case indicated the possibility of Mr. Ashraf meeting Mr. Gilani’s fate. Mr. Gilani was convicted for contempt of court and disqualified as Prime Minister by the court for not writing the letter.
In Thursday’s judgment, the bench said: “It goes without saying that all the directions issued by this court during the implementation proceedings apply with equal force to the present incumbent of the office of the Prime Minister as he has merely stepped into the shoes of his predecessor in office and, thus, he too is bound to implement the relevant directions of this court “regardless of any advice tendered earlier or in future.”
The Pakistan Peoples Party-led government has refused to write the letter on the premise that it would be in violation of the Constitution as the President enjoys immunity while in office. The court has been insisting on the letter being written after it annulled the NRO – an amnesty law promulgated by the Musharraf regime – in 2009.