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WD
Web Desk
December 21, 2010
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Zardari’s letter to Nawaz silent on NRO

National

WD
Web Desk
December 21, 2010

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ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari’s lengthy response to PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif’s letter, released on Sunday, is silent on the question of non-compliance of the historic Supreme Court judgment on the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) and its other rulings.
Additionally, Zardari’s 3675-word letter does not touch the critical issue of combating corruption that was given added significance in Nawaz Sharif’s November 10 communication, a reading of the two documents shows.
Non-compliance of NRO judgment is seriously compromising the rule of law and generating tension between the judiciary and the executive, Nawaz Sharif’s letter had said, adding the PML-N demands that all the Supreme Court judgments must be implemented in totality without further delay. The president simply ignored this point.
Rather, he availed the occasion to respond to Nawaz Sharif to recount the achievements, initiatives, measures and steps that the government has taken in different fields. He spoke in detail about the official performance.
Zardari justified inflation, sugar price, delay in enactment of accountability law, cutting or undoing losses caused by state-owned enterprises, price hike, unemployment by giving a variety of arguments that the government generally advance, and also laid out the future official plans.
Nawaz Sharif emphasised ensuring transparency and accountability. Responding to it, the president said the office of auditor general is being strengthened and that the chairmanship of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has been given to the opposition, which he presented as a demonstration of the government’s sincerity to accountability.
Zardari’s letter said on issues of accountability and transparency, the government’s sincerity can be judged by the first-ever appointment of the opposition leader as PAC chairman. He hoped that the opposition leader has apprised Nawaz Sharif of all the support and cooperation that the government

extends to his office. “We are also fulfilling our constitutional obligation to ensure oversight of public finances by strengthening the office of the Auditor General.” About tackling corruption, Zardari told Nawaz Sharif that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has introduced a centralised cheques issuing system for payment of refunds to eliminate corruption. “You will be pleased to know that in the last three months alone - cheques have been issued in the amount of Rs11 billion with zero corruption. These measures are the gateway to systemic reform and transparency.”
Zardari made a dig on Nawaz Sharif when he wrote that in line with her philosophy of reconciliation, Benazir Bhutto invited Begum Kulsoom to join the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy, showing the slain lady has worked for restoration of democracy.
He underlined his administration’s sense of accommodation toward the Punjab government when he said that efforts to contain fiscal deficit were stalled in FY 2008-09 when the Punjab government resorted to excessive borrowing from the State Bank. “In a spirit of cooperation, our government condoned this lapse and converted the temporary borrowing into a long-term loan to ease the fiscal pressures of the Punjab government.
Our government also assisted the government of the Punjab by allowing the use of borrowed money and investing Rs10 billion in the Bank of Punjab which otherwise would have been in acute financial distress. In a further effort to assist the Punjab government, the federal government picked up the cost of excess wheat procured by the Punjab government and injected Rs12 billion into the Punjab exchequer.” About belt tightening, he mentioned the cosmetic measure saying that expenditures of the Aiwan-e-Sadr and Prime Minister’s Secretariat have been cut.
Nawaz Sharif had addressed Zardari not as president of Pakistan but as a co-chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). It appeared that the Finance Ministry gave a lot of input in the preparation of the letter by the president.

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