ISLAMABAD - Acting as a ‘prosecutor’, Attorney General (AG) Maulvi Anwarul Haq will today (Thursday) submit documentary evidence to the Supreme Court to prove that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani committed contempt of court by disobeying court orders in the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) case and afterwards.
Talking to Pakistan Today on Wednesday, the attorney general confirmed that acting as a prosecutor, he had collected and would submit the documentary evidence coupled with other relevant records containing all the court orders passed in the NRO case and afterwards that were flouted by the government. To a query, he said there was no need to mention or produce witnesses in the apex court, as the documentary evidence itself had the status of witness. However, contrary to his claim that there was no need for witnesses and the documentary evidence alone would suffice, sources close to the AG’s office said it had included seven incumbent and former officials, including former AG Anwar Mansoor Khan, former acting AG Shah Khawar and some officials of the Law Ministry, in the list of witnesses to be submitted to the court on Thursday (today).
They said the names of witnesses were derived from the orders in the NRO case, as they had been related to the orders that were flouted and led to the indictment of the prime minister on contempt charges. They said the documentary evidence collected by the prosecution so far consisted of around 22 orders of the Supreme Court in the NRO case and afterwards that were disobeyed by the ‘chief executive’. These orders mainly consist of Paragraph 178 of the NRO judgement, which states: “Since the NRO, 2007 stands declared void ab initio, therefore any actions taken or suffered under the said law are also non est in law and since the communications addressed by Malik Muhammad Qayyum to various foreign fora/authorities/courts withdrawing the requests earlier made by the Government of Pakistan for mutual legal assistance; surrendering the status of civil party; abandoning the claims to the allegedly laundered moneys lying in foreign countries including Switzerland, have also been declared by us to be unauthorised and illegal communications and consequently of no legal effect, therefore, it is declared that the initial requests for mutual legal assistance; securing the status of civil party and the claims lodged to the allegedly laundered moneys lying in foreign countries including Switzerland are declared never to have been withdrawn. Therefore the Federal Government and other concerned authorities are ordered to take immediate steps to seek revival of the said requests, claims and status.”
Gilani became the first prime minister of Pakistan on February 13 to have been formally indicted for contempt of court for “willfully flouting, disregarding and disobeying” court orders. Determined to contest the charge, the prime minister appeared before the seven-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Monday and decided to plead not guilty after Justice Nasirul Mulk, who was heading the bench, read out the charges. In case of his conviction, the prime minister can be sentenced to six months in jail and a five-year ban from holding any public office for choosing to plead not guilty. The prime minister’s counsel Aitzaz Ahsen will file the documents from the defence by February 22 and the list of the witnesses by February 27. The evidence of the defence will be recorded on February 28.