Bleak scenario: legal and political
By Akhtar Ali Kureshi
Once again, we are standing on the verge of turmoil in our political landscape that has changed the complexion of our thinking. Nobody is there to feel secure or satisfied. Although the opposition is looking cool and calm after the decision of the government to roll back the awful ordinance of NRO by compromising their earlier stubborn success in the Standing Committee.
Sudden change in the government's attitude emerged due to the withdrawal of MQM's political support, which left the government in the lurch. Resultantly, there was no option except to repudiate the NRO. Similarly, other political ally (Maulana Fazlur Rahman) also withdrew his support and made the situation more fragile and un-predictable. At one stage, it was certainly presumed that the government has lost the credibility and PM has to take vote of confidence. However, the government instantly managed to re-negotiate the matter with allies in Abu Dhabi which washed the impression. This is the bleak situation that was foreseen by President Asif Ali Zardari when he was persistently not willing to restore the deposed Chief Justice and his front man Farooq Naek was busy in twisting the entire legal position by dejecting the voice of public at large. In other words, we may say here that "as you sow so shall you reap".
The present situation is not a politically motivated by any friendly opposition. However, it is persuaded by an outcome of legal proposition which surfaced when a full bench of the Supreme Court passed the historical judgment of July 31st by declaring the emergency of November 3, 2007, as null and void consequently the references of PCO judges to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) and many legal issues pertaining 37 Ordinances were have to present in the Parliament to decide their fate, including NRO.
Handling a crisis may be challenging position for government and not disappointing to any body but how amazing to fight various alarming and perilous crises in one time. Unfortunately, we are facing operation Raha-i-Rast in Waziristan, continuous sequence of terrorist bomb blast, energy problem leading towards heavy load shedding of electricity, gas and CNG, sugar crises, judicial crises; shortage of High Court's judges, Kerry-Lugar Bill and last but not least NRO which jolted the entire democratic set up by making un-comfortable position of the country's top slot.
The frail situation of Mr. Zardari is being eagerly aggravated by our TV channels exposing the cases of corruption and bad governance of present regime. Even these circumstances compel the President to meet Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan whose membership of EC was suspended to sideline him just because of his affiliation with Chief Justice of Pakistan. Now Mr. Ahsan is being offered high profile slot in the government to cool down the sizzling position of Mr. Zardari.
In the same episode of crises there is also a huge pressure for reversal of seventeenth amendment in the Constitution in which again main issue is against the power of Mr. Zardari who earlier frankly promised to surrender his Presidential powers and subsequently betray his promises as matter of no significance.
The expiry date for the time period given by the Supreme Court is fixed November 28 when the legal validity of NRO will cease without attaining the sanction of the Parliament. Resultantly beneficiaries of NRO are not allowed to go Scot free until secure the bail order from competent court of jurisdiction. It means the death of NRO will restore all cases in the same position pending in same court when the court granted the benefits of NRO and cases were withdrawn against wishes of general public.
Now the position is altogether changed showing the matter is no more political and top leader of friendly opposition and other government's allies are silent on the issue of President rather their body language is displaying the support to him. It is highly pertinent to point out that in question legal crises emerged after the direction of Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan therefore it is purely a legal issue and will be resolved according to whim and wishes of the law.
The impunity available in Article 248 of the Constitution will not come to the rescue of Mr. President as all cases, against the President which will become alive after 28th of this month, are before entering into the office of President whereas the aforesaid impunity is marked to avail on the act or performance as President during the period of his term and not beyond or before. Therefore the matter relates to the interpretation of the Constitution which non other than the Supreme Court is empowered to do so as first impression case.
The confusion mixing the President and government should at least be clear at this crucial junction to maintain the focus on real issue and apart from many crises the only issue left for consideration is the beneficiaries of NRO and particularly the President Asif Ali Zardari who may gain the colossal benefits of billion dollars equal to total amount of Pakistan's debt.
According to the Constitution of Pakistan, the President of Pakistan will be a symbol of Federation and person of high integrity whereas the present incumbent is holder of opposite qualities, head of the ruling party, director of the many companies, involved in corruption cases, not matched to the constitution and a source of defaming its own regime.
Only honourable egress to save the values of a democratic system to resign before the Court initiate the legal proceeding, leave the government to work smoothly for the welfare and prosperity of general public who are waiting the blessing of a true government since long and combats the crises already facing to curtail its miseries.
The writer is an Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Law Professor, Member of International Bar Association, London and former Assistant Advocate General Punjab