Swiss Letter Issue; The Truth and Implications In view of Humayun Akhtar Khan

Overview

12 July was being anticipated as an important marker for Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf. He was directed by Supreme Court to inform the court by 25th of July in compliance of court orders to write a letter to the Swiss Government. The government argues that according to Swiss laws, the President has immunity and thus there are no grounds for producing afore mentioned letter. Supreme court has extended the submission of report to another two weeks, which is viewed by people differentially. Some think it as a positive sign to eliminate the political gap that was expected of this problem but the truth is to be figured out.

How do you view this situation, was this some kind of Judicial restraint or an effort to avoid the deadlock that is developing in the constitution?

I feel that judicial restraint has been practiced for quite some time now. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s case also took months to be decided. When the first verdict came the court gave an opportunity to political parties to find a political solution for the conviction. Speaker was given authority to decide but later the court didn’t agree with the proposal.

There are a lot of problems that Pakistan is facing today and people are dissatisfied and restless, they expect elections. I feel that the politicians need to find a political solution to this issue that is acceptable to the courts and constitution. It is about time for the politicians to work towards preparing ground for the elections because next year might bring newer problems in the context of economy. A proper setup of caretaker government should be put in place so that the process follows the desired schedule. After which whoever gets mandate should pursue government.

What is your stance on the letter issue and what is the usefulness of this letter?

I am no lawyer to debate on precisely what Swiss laws suggest and if according to them there is immunity to the president, but realistically speaking since the government has trouble writing the letter there might be some problem involved.

About the usefulness, it is a 60 million dollar question. Supreme Court insists that the cases that were being tried in Swiss courts at that time should not have been terminated so Pakistan government should write to the Swiss government to reinstate trial.

The important thing is, if appellate court gives directions to an executive of the country it is mandatory for them to comply. Defiance would lead to weakened judiciary, which can give rise to future problems.

There is a concern that if President of Pakistan is tried in Swiss courts it will become a cause of ridicule, do you agree?

It would have been ridiculed if it were a new case; we know that it is an old case that is being reopened. Supreme court is suggesting that the letter written by attorney General Abdul Qayyum was wrong and should be withdrawn. After withdrawal Swiss courts might assess that there is no strength in the case or that the President has immunity and dismiss the case altogether.

I feel that bielections are not the right indicators of general elections. An example is the case of PML Q which in 2002 and 2007 won all bielections in every part of the country but lost in general elections.

Source: Maazrat Key Saath – News One – 25 July 2012

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