Pak SC indicates it could summon PM in NRO case

Islamabad: Pakistan`s Supreme Court has indicated that it could summon the Prime Minister if the government`s lawyers did not represent it in a case seeking a review of the court`s decision striking down a graft amnesty that benefited President Asif Ali Zardari and thousands of others.

A 17-judge full bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry yesterday issued show-cause notices to the Solicitor General for misguiding the bench and to a government advocate-on-record for dissociating himself from the government`s petition seeking a review of a verdict which scrapped the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).

The apex court has expressed its exasperation over the government`s apparent failure to appoint a counsel to represent it in the crucial case, which was taken up by the full bench after the ruling PPP filed a petition seeking a review of the verdict that annulled the graft amnesty passed by former President Pervez Musharraf in 2007.

During yesterday`s hearing, Chaudhry questioned who would defend the NRO if nobody is willing to argue the case on behalf of the government.

The Prime Minister is the representative of the government and perhaps he should be asked to come forward to plead the case, Chaudhry observed after the Attorney General and the advocate-on-record declined to present arguments during the hearing.

The Supreme Court has been irked by the government`s perceived attempts to delay the hearing of the review petition on one pretext or the other.

It subsequently adjourned the proceedings on the request of Attorney General Anwarul Haq. Since the apex court struck down the NRO last year, it has pressured the PPP-led government to reopen corruption cases that were closed under the amnesty.

The government is yet to take any action in this regard though it has removed some minor officials who benefited from the NRO.

President Zardari is among the more than 8,000 beneficiaries of the NRO.

The apex court has asked the government to communicate with Swiss authorities to reopen cases involving the alleged laundering of USD 60 million by Zardari.

The government has denied Zardari`s involvement in the matter and the President`s aides have said he enjoys immunity from criminal prosecution.

The apex court made it clear during yesterday`s hearing that even if it dismissed the review petition because of lack of interest shown by the government in pursuing the matter, it would still hear the case regarding the steps taken by the government to implement its order scrapping the NRO.