In anticipation of an ‘onslaught’ from the judiciary and the military, the government has decided to take refuge behind the parliament’s cordon as it has summoned a National Assembly session here today, but it is for sure that the move has little potential to change the ground realities and the government would have no option other than to implement the Supreme Court’s National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) verdict in its entirety.
It is likely that the government and its allied parties will pass a resolution in the unusual session of the Lower House to express confidence in the president, prime minister, parliament and democracy in order to put the judiciary and military on the back foot in the continuing tug-of-war between the civilian and military leadership. But under all circumstances, the move has little potential to help the beleaguered government and change the ground realities as resolutions cannot stand in the way of Supreme Court decisions. The government has summoned the session of the National Assembly foreseeing an ‘attack’ from the judiciary and the military, as it has locked horns with these institutions on several issues and the tempers seem to be very high on both sides.
All the options available to the 5-member bench of the Supreme Court against ‘willful disobedience’ of and non-compliance with some parts of the judgement issued by the apex court in the case of Dr Mobashir Hassan (NRO implementation case) clearly suggest that the government would be on losing end. The options that the court may take against the government have narrowed the margins for the government’s survival unless it complies with the orders.
None of the options available with the SC give any breathing room to the government as President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Admiral (r) Fasih Bokhari, Law Minister Maula Bux Chandio and Law Secretary Masood Chishti are in the line of fire because of their delinquent attitude. Apart from paying the price in political terms, these five people may also lose their right to hold public office if the apex court goes ahead with these options, as the government still seems to be sticking to its previous position on political and judicial matters.
One of the options available with the SC gives a little room to President Zardari, which says: “Although in the present proceedings nobody has so far raised the issue pertaining to the protections contemplated by Article 248 of the constitution, yet if anybody likely to be affected by exercise of these options by this Court wishes to be heard on that question then an opportunity may be afforded to him in that respect before exercise of any of these options.” Commenting on the reopening of Swiss case against President Zardari in the context of the court orders, senior lawyer Babar Sattar said Zardari enjoyed sovereign immunity as long as he was president. He said no sovereign state could try the head of another sovereign state. Coming to the application of Article 248, Sattar said President Zardari enjoyed absolute immunity under the constitution. The president could not be tried under criminal proceedings and in case some cases were registered against him earlier and were under trial now, that would also come to a halt as long as he was president.