Finally, a semblance of rationality
Many must have heaved a sigh of relief at the conclusion of the SC proceedings in the NRO implantation case on Tuesday. Finally there is a prospect of resolution of the standoff between the judiciary and the executive. The government has agreed to withdraw the letter written by Malik Qayyum to the Swiss authorities which led to the termination of the legal proceedings against President Zardari in Switzerland. The prime minister also agreed to authorize the law minister to draft the withdrawal letter. Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has been exempted from court appearance. He will therefore be better able to focus on important national issues that need his urgent attention. Farooq H Naek has apparently played an important role in the development. He has however taken over a responsibility which will test his legal acumen as the letter has to satisfy the court while also ensure that Zardari does not face prosecution as a consequence of the correspondence. What Naek is required to perform is virtually a Houdini act.
The implementation of the NRO verdict requires opening of the Swiss cases. To save Zardari, the PPP leadership had for more than two years remained adamant over not allowing the opening of his trial in Swiss courts. That seemed to be the safest way out in the eyes of the party leadership. Despite claims that it could sacrifice several PMs for maintaining the position, the party now finds the costs of the stand forbidding. The cases have removed the focus of the PPP leadership from highly vital matters like power shortages, floods in Sindh and Balochistan and planning for the forthcoming elections. A continuous negligence can have a negative fallout on its electoral fortunes. The government’s coalition partners are meanwhile becoming increasingly restive over the prolonged confrontation with the SC. They want an end to the state of uncertainty that they fear can harm them during the elections.
Much will depend on whether the draft of the letter prepared by Naek is acceptable to the court on September 25. Over the last two years and more, the government and the SC have come to realize the extent of each other’s elasticity. The law can be bent up to a certain point only. The PPP too would yield ground on an issue concerning Zardari to a certain point. Naek is both an experienced lawyer and a confidante of Zardari and thus knows the limits of both sides. There is an urgent need to find a solution to the standoff that has sapped the energies of the government, created doubts about the future of the system and kept judges away from taking up important cases that continue to pile up in the SC.