Immunity, time cited reasons
As expected, the government of Switzerland has refused to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari on the premise that it was time-barred under Swiss law.
After a prolonged stand-off with the Supreme Court, the dismissal of former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and the threat of another Premier facing the same fate, the federal government had requested the Swiss government to reopen the cases last November.
In his reply to Pakistan’s request, Switzerland’s Attorney General told the Law Ministry that the case could not be reopened because it had become time-barred under the Swiss law. Add to this the presidential immunity he enjoys. While asking for reopening the cases, Pakistan had essentially informed the Swiss government that its 2007 vintage letter seeking closure of the cases stood withdrawn.
Writing the letter to the Swiss authorities had been a bone of contention between the executive and the judiciary since 2009 after the Supreme Court annulled the National Reconciliation Ordinance — an amnesty law on the promulgation of which cases against Mr. Zardari and a host of others were dropped by the Musharraf regime.
With the Swiss authorities refusing to entertain Pakistan’s request, curtains have been drawn on this prolonged episode of tensions between the Pakistan Peoples Party-led government and the higher judiciary on an issue that had at times threatened to bring down the ruling dispensation.