Prime Minister Raja Parvez Ashraf once again faces the possibility of being hauled to court for contempt charges with the Supreme Court warning on Wednesday that it would initiate contempt proceedings if the federal government failed to comply with its order to write to the Swiss authorities for reopening of graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.
After finding the letter submitted by the federal Law Minister Farooq Naek unsatisfactory, the five-judge bench set October 5 as the fresh deadline by when the government has to submit a letter as per the specifications mandated by the Court.
This is the second time in two days that the Court has found fault with the letter drafted by the government as per an undertaking given by Mr. Ashraf on his last day in court on September 18. Since the deliberations over the contents of the letter were held in the judge’s chamber, there was no clarity on the points of difference between the government and the bench.
As a way out of the prolonged stalemate between the judiciary and the executive over writing to the Swiss authorities, the Prime Minister had said the government would withdraw a 2007-vintage letter written by the then Attorney-General seeking closure of cases against Mr. Zardari. That letter was written in view of the promulgation of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) —an amnesty law — by the Musharraf regime.
The NRO was declared null and void by the Court in 2009 and it has been insisting on reopening the of graft cases in Swiss courts ever since. The government has resisted it till date — in the process even sacrificing a Premier — on the premise that Mr. Zardari enjoys presidential immunity while in office.