ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has been advised by his legal advisers and senior PPP leaders not to appear before the Supreme Court on August 27 to face the contempt notice issued to him.
Attorney General Irfan Qadir, who is against the appearance of the prime minister before the five-member bench led by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, has advised Pervaiz Ashraf that he is not constitutionally or legally bound to be present before the panel, a credible source told The News.
“Had I been the adviser to former prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, I would have never recommended to him to present himself before the bench that held hearings on the contempt charge against him,” the attorney general says.
Gilani is also averse to his successor’s turning up before the apex court for the contempt proceedings. He says he got nothing out of his appearance before the court thrice on this charge.
The source said Gilani has asked Raja Pervaiz Ashraf not to go to the Supreme Court on August 27 as he is not answerable to it for his actions as the prime minister.
According to the source, Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khosa, who is among the hawkish critics of the present independent superior judiciary, is another leading opponent of the prime minister’s appearance before the court. He has made this recommendation during his meetings with him as well as public utterances.
The bottom line of the legal and political advice that the premier has got is that he should stay away from the bench on August 27 as under Clause 1 of Article 248, he is immune from prosecution.
While Pervaiz Ashraf is most likely not to show up before the Khosa bench, the attorney general and Law Minister Farooq H Naek jointly gave an impression to the apex court last week that the government is about to come out with a mutually acceptable solution to the standoff, thereby implementing the judgment against the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).
It sought time to finalise the modus operandi of the grand resolution. The bench indefinitely deferred hearing on the government’s review petition against its July 12 order in which the new prime minister was directed to obey the NRO ruling especially its para 178. The government stressed postponement of the proceedings on the review petition as well as the contempt case, but the bench made it clear that the contempt proceedings would go ahead as scheduled and the deferment of the review petition would not have any bearing on it.
The Para 178 of NRO decision, handed down on December 16, 2009, says since the NRO stands declared void ab initio; therefore, any actions taken or suffered under the NRO are also non est in law and since the communications addressed by Attorney General Malik Muhammad Qayyum to various foreign fora/authorities/courts withdrawing the requests earlier made by the Pakistan government for mutual legal assistance; surrendering the status of civil party; abandoning the claims to the allegedly laundered moneys lying in foreign countries, including Switzerland, have also been declared by us to be unauthorised and illegal communications and consequently of no legal effect; therefore, it is declared that the initial requests for mutual legal assistance; securing the status of civil party and the claims lodged to the allegedly laundered moneys lying in foreign countries, including Switzerland, are declared never to have been withdrawn. Therefore, the federal government and other authorities concerned are ordered to take immediate steps to seek revival of the requests, claims and status.
This seeks undoing and withdrawal of the then attorney general’s 2008 unauthorised communications to Swiss authorities; and revival of Pakistan’s earlier requests for mutual legal assistance, which Qayyum had dispensed with, Islamabad’s status as civil party and its claims to allegedly laundered moneys lying in foreign countries, including Switzerland.
The Para 177 says since in view of Article 100(3) of the Constitution, Qayyum could not have suffered any act not assigned to him by the federal government or not authorised by it, and since no order or authority had been shown to the court under which he had been authorised to address communications to various authorities/courts in foreign countries, including Switzerland; therefore, such communications withdrawing the requests for mutual legal assistance or abandoning the status of a civil party in abroad or which had culminated in the termination of proceedings before the competent fora in Switzerland or other countries or in abandonment of the claim of the Pakistan government to huge amounts of allegedly laundered moneys, are declared to be his unauthorised, unconstitutional and illegal acts.