Beleaguered Pakistan government led by Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani seems in no mood to tone down while appearing before a seven-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC) in National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) today (Thursday).
Gilani’s lawyer, former President Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Aitzaz Ahsan, who will present the case in the court today, maintained in his several media appearances that though the Prime Minister was not guilty of contempt of court, he should bow to pressure and ask Switzerland to reopen graft cases.
Urging and reiterating the government to write a letter to the Swiss government to reopen cases, Aitza stressed, “I used to say previously that writing a letter to Swiss officials will make no difference; now, I say that not writing a letter will make no difference either.”
The sources said Gilani is unlikely to offer an apology to the court which has issued a contempt notice for failing to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari, sources said yesterday.
The top leadership of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party has evolved consensus on not apologising to the judiciary or writing a letter to Swiss authorities to revive cases of alleged money laundering against Zardari, sources in the party and its legal team said.
A close aide to the President noted yesterday that the PM Gilani will neither offer apology nor will he give assurance to the apex court about writing a letter.
The PM’s counsel Ahsan said the President Zardari enjoys full immunity from criminal cases in Pakistan and abroad and the constitutional immunity had been notified under Article 248 of the Constitution. So the Prime Minister cannot be held guilty of contempt.
In its previous hearing on Monday, the apex court issued a contempt notice against the Prime Minister on the ground that he failed to act on its directive to reopen graft cases against Zardari and others issued over two years ago. The court also asked him to appear in person on Thursday.
Since December 2009, the apex court has been pressurizing the PPP-led government to reopen the corruption cases after striking down the National Reconciliation Ordinance, a graft amnesty that was issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.
The government has refused to act on the order, saying the President enjoys immunity under the Constitution.
In recent development, the Premier Gilani received the backing of parliament which passed a pro-democracy resolution. In his speech in the National Assembly, he urged the judiciary and military to protect democracy despite differences with his government. The judiciary and military, he said, could not “pack up” or derail the democratic system. Various government officials and political leaders who have arrived before the hearing began include Awami National Party (ANP) Chief Asfandyar Wali Khan, President Asif Ali Zardari’s brother-in law Munawwar Talpur, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Qamaruz Zaman Kaira, Chudhary Shujaat Hussain, Makdoom Amin Fahim, Azad Kashmir Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majid, Punjab Governor Sardar Muhammed Latif Khosa, Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Mehdi Shah and Khursheed Shah.
The protocl crew of the Prime Minister along with Rangers have also arrived at the premises of the court.