The coalition government on Wednesday softened its stance on writing a letter to Swiss authorities in compliance with the apex court verdict on the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) to reopen the corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari after it was advised so. A well-placed source told Pakistan Today that senior Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) leader Aitzaz Ahsen had advised President Zardari to review his stance over the issue while the leaders of coalition parties had also pressed the government to do so.
“Aitzaz Ahsen has advised the president through some intermediaries to review his stance on writing a letter to Swiss authorities, failing which, the apex court may appoint a commission under Article 187 of the constitution to get its orders implemented,” said the source. Article 187 says: “The Supreme Court shall have power to issue such directions, orders or decrees as may be necessary for doing complete justice in any case or matter pending before it, including an order for the purpose of securing the attendance of any person or the discovery or production of any document.” The source added that Ahsen also conveyed to the president that if a commission was formed by the apex court, the commission would exercise powers on behalf of the government and it might write a letter to the Swiss authorities on behalf of the government. The source said that in view of the advice, the president had directed all party leaders to avoid using strong language against the court or military leadership and it was decided that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) would be
targeted instead as it was none other than PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif who had moved the apex court on the memo controversy. Meanwhile, PPP leaders started a consultation process with opposition leaders and in this regard, Religious Affairs Minister Syed Khurshid Shah and Raja Parvez Ashraf held a meeting with Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rehman and discussed the possibility of writing a letter to Swiss authorities.
After the meeting, Fazl told reporters that there was no harm in writing a letter to Swiss authorities and the government should review its stance in this regard. The PPP leaders stressed the need to forge unity among political forces to ensure the supremacy of parliament.
Shah and Ashraf said the PPP did not want confrontation among state institutions. “The prime minister does not want confrontation either with the court or any other institution. We don’t believe in confrontation,” he said.
Shah said further that Yousaf Raza Gilani was a unanimously elected prime minister and according to the constitution, he did not need to seek a vote of confidence from the National Assembly. Shah also ruled out the election of a new prime minister. “The government is not going to sack the army chief and he will complete his tenure,” he said, adding that the country could not afford confrontation among state institutions.
Ashraf said the dismissal of the defence secretary was a “routine matter”.