LAHORE: Issued by the former Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf some 1,725 days ago on October 5, 2007, the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) was first declared unconstitutional by a 17-member bench of the Supreme Court on December 16, 2009 or some 954 days ago, but this infamous order still continues to haunt the country’s political skyline despite having claimed the scalp of an elected Prime Minister in a contempt case.
Having granted amnesty to politicians, political workers and bureaucrats accused of corruption, money laundering, murder and terrorism etc between January 1, 1986, and October 12, 1999, this notorious Ordinance will still be under discussion on Wednesday (today), when the Supreme Court resumes the hearing of the NRO implementation case, for which new Premier Raja Pervaiz Ashraf had already been given a deadline earlier this month (July 12) to explain his position regarding writing a letter to Swiss authorities to re-open corruption cases against the incumbent Pakistani President Asif Zardari.
As the 33-day old government of Raja Pervaiz Ashraf is all set to defend itself before the Supreme Court of Pakistan in the NRO implementation case today, the beneficiaries of this controversial presidential ordinance are yet to heave a sigh of relief.
Although the sitting Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had displayed exemplary guts and courage to suspend this Presidential order on October 12, 2007, just a week or so after it was promulgated, he was soon dismissed after the then President General Musharraf had opted to abrogate the Constitution by proclaiming Emergency in the country on November 3, 2007.
The new Chief Justice, Abdul Hameed Dogar, had then consequently revived this amnesty order issued by the Presidency on February 27, 2008.
In November 2009, the list of the NRO beneficiaries was first released officially on the orders of the then Premier Yusuf Raza Gilani. This particular list carried names of 8,401 beneficiaries, most of whom were bureaucrats.
In one of his earlier reports on the subject, this correspondent had mentioned that at least 34 politicians and three ambassadors were also among the “lucky ones” to get an official pardon for their sins and wrongdoings.
Just to recap events from recent history, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had then asked the Interior Ministry to bar 248 people (including former Interior Minister Rehman Malik) from leaving the country.
The days that followed also saw the then Pakistani Defence Minister Chaudhary Ahmad Mukhtar being stopped at the Islamabad Airport from departing the country on a trip to China. A November 20, 2009 story carried by “The News International” had stated: “The National Accountability Bureau has presented to the government a list of 248 politicians and bureaucrats, who were alleged to have plundered hundreds of billions of rupees but were cleared by the NAB under the NRO.”