–Court asks petitioner for evidence corroborating claims regarding $60m stashed in Swiss accounts
–Addl AG tells court NRO is a ‘dated issue’ so new trial will be inappropriate
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday promised that it would keep the asset details submitted by former presidents Pervez Musharraf and Asif Ali Zardari confidential.
The court was hearing a case pertaining to the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). The NRO was promulgated in Oct 2007 by the government of then-president Musharraf. Under the ordinance, cases against politicians were removed, paving the way for many to return to Pakistan.
A two-member bench comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Sajjad Ali resumed hearing the objections pertaining to non-maintainability of a petition filed by Lawyers Foundation for Justice President Feroz Shah Gilani in which he had urged for the recovery of losses incurred due to the promulgation of NRO.
In order to convince the court into accepting the petition, the petitioner claimed that the $60 million stashed in Zardari’s Swiss accounts belonged to Pakistan, and “should be recovered”. In response, Justice Ahsan asked the petitioner for evidence corroborating his claims, since Zardari’s defence counsel maintained that his client has been acquitted in cases pertaining to his Swiss bank accounts.
“It is clear that $60 million were stashed in Swiss accounts but remains unclear how the money was acquired, where it went and who was the beneficiary,” he added.
During the hearing, the additional attorney general informed the court that the NRO was a “dated issue” and a new trial will not be appropriate.
The bench, however, expresses dissatisfaction with the responses submitted by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the federal government.
It directed them to review cases pertaining to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) co-chairman’s bank accounts and NRO before submitting a reply in court.
According to reports, the top court has left the decision on maintainability of the petition pending until it looks over the submitted evidence. It also decided to keep asset details of the two former presidents and Malik Qayyum, then-attorney general of Pakistan (AGP), confidential until the petition is accepted.
“The decision will be taken as per law and constitution,” the court stressed.
The hearing was later adjourned for three weeks.
Feroz Shah Gillani had filed a petition in the court in April to recover ‘huge amounts of public money’ misappropriated by Musharraf and Zardari during their terms in power.
Gillani had argued that with the declaration of emergency and passing of the NRO, the constitution was subverted and all criminal and corruption cases against politicians were “arbitrarily withdrawn”.