The Honourable Supreme Court on January 3 gave a seven-day deadline to the government for the implementation of the National Reconciliation Ordinance, which included an order to the government to write a letter to Swiss authorities to reopen cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.
But Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) categorically refused to submit a letter to Swiss authorities as demanded by the Supreme Court. This decision was taken during a meeting of the party’s core committee held on 5 Jan 2012.
Chairing the committee meeting, President Asif Ali Zardari remarked that the Constitution provides the President with immunity in such cases. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was also present at the meeting.
President Zardari must be claiming this immunity as per Article 248 of the Constitution, which reads that: ‘No criminal proceedings whatsoever shall be instituted or continued against the President or a Governor in any court during his term of office’. Understandably this absolute immunity from damages liability so predicated is allowed to the President to run his official duty freely and smoothly. Immunity from any kind of prosecution may only be granted as long as he acts in “good faith.” But pilfering and looting of national assets and tossing the loot or its proceeds in foreign accounts or buying foreign estates may certainly not be counted as duties done in ‘good faith’?
Determining of “good faith” would also mean that the President’s motivations would have to be examined in his each case, which may be highly intrusive for him. We need to examine the application of immunity whether it clearly falls outside the scope of the presidential duties or not. But when he is found indulging in pilferage or looting; this is certainly a conduct unbecoming of a President, not expected from a head of the country; neither it falls in the scope of his prescribed duties that he is entrusted with in the service of Pakistan as a President.
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. The subject Swiss case may be against the President Zardari who is supposed to be a non-political identity and he may be claiming his immunity but here Supreme Court has given the orders to the government which is to be executed by the Prime Minister as Executive of the country. Should PM also say No to the Supreme Court order? Where does he stands and what plea he in his personal capacity would be taking?
There is history in making. So let’s see what punitive action is prescribed by the Honourable Supreme Court against the defaulters and how many heads would be seen rolling?