Thursday, December 17, 2009

NRO - A Failed Washing Machine

By Tariq Mian
Another unanimous land mark ruling by the seventeen-member bench of the apex court declaring the controversial national ordinance as null and void in ‘a short order’ is indeed a great blessing for the nation. Among other things, the court has also specifically ordered the government to immediately reopen the Swiss cases concerning Pres Zardari. Actually, the ex Pres Musharraf tried to offer a ‘legal umbrella’ (amnesty) in order to whitewash “a huge loot of national wealth” by more than 8000 individuals including senior politicians and bureaucrats in order to allow Benazir Bhutto to return home under a power sharing deal. The court ruled that the law "seems to be against national interests thus it violates the provisions of the constitution". Therefore, the NRO, an invention of Mr. Musharraf has finally been scrapped by the said verdict.
As the Supreme Court has called for all these cases to be re-opened, with hundreds of senior politicians and bureaucrats now facing criminal and corruption charges, all old cases that had been dismissed under the NRO, now stand revived and can now be reopened as per the court orders. The court said that all previous orders that were passed and all acquittals under the NRO were illegal and never existed. The apex court in its order also said that all convictions that were held prior to the enactment of the NRO stand revived as well.
According to the judgment, the NRO is contrary to the equality guaranteed by the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan. Similarly, all the cases, disposed off because of the controversial ordinance, now stand revived as of Oct 5, 2007 position, said the judgment.
All previously written requests made to Swiss courts for the withdrawal of cases were also declared unconstitutional. "The provisions of the NRO seem to be against national interests thus it violates the several provisions of the constitution," the ruling said.
Earlier, while hearing petitions against the NRO, the chief justice remarked that even parliament had no right to change the basic structure of the constitution.
“In accordance to oath, we are committed to safeguard the constitution,” he remarked.
Earlier, the CJ warned the NAB Chairman Naveed Ahsan about a stern action if something false detected in the list. He made him certify the list as correct.
The court summoned the summary file of directives issued for the elimination of the Swiss cases when the hearing resumed on Wednesday.
The court was angry with the Acting Attorney General for concealing the truth.
The principal secretary of President Salman Farooqi informed the court that cases files are not present in presidency. The files were in president’ camp office in Rawalpindi.
In his remarks, chief justice said how assembly could declare corruption as legal.
Mr Zardari faces several pending court cases against him in Pakistan.
Although, the court's move opens the way to possible prosecution of Mr. Zardari's political allies, yet, he is still protected by Presidential immunity under the Constitution of Pakistan. Nevertheless, it is much better for the bunkered President to step down in order to let the government function smoothly in the best interest of Pakistan.
The writer is an independant analyst based in Canada.

Re: Will the SC also review how 15/20 years old NRO cases remained unheard or undecided all these years? The News Blog Pakistan.

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