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PML-N govt requests SC to reject plea against Zardari

11 September, 2013

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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz- (PML-N) led government has requested the Supreme Court to reject a petition which states that former president Asif Ali Zardari should not be allowed to leave the country after the expiry of his tenure in office because he wilfully concealed sensitive information from the armed forces about the Abbottabad incident.

Submitting a reply to the petition, which was filed by Shahid Orakzai, the federal government has also strongly defended former president Zardari and his decision to convene a high-level meeting in Presidency to probe former ambassador of Pakistan to the US, Husain Haqqani, in front of army chief and ISI director general.

The government, through the Law Ministry, submitted on Tuesday that "the apprehension of the petitioner/applicant about departure of the incumbent (now former) president of Islamic Republic of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari in view of inquiry by the commission constituted on the matter of Abbottabad incident is misconceived and completely against realities. It is humbly prayed that application may be dismissed with special cost."

In its reply the government has stated that the meeting in question which was held on November 12, 2011 and convened by the president in the President's Secretariat was not unconstitutional. It is to be noted that the meeting was attended by then president Asif Ali Zardari, then prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, army chief General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kiani, then DG ISI Lt Gen Shuja Pasha and former ambassador of Pakistan to US Husain Haqqani. A two-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, will consider the government's reply next week.

"Since the court of inquiry to probe the alleged misconduct of a contract employee of Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Husain Haqqani) by two military officers (Gen Kayani and Gen Pasha) is the concern of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defence and Establishment Division. The said divisions have not been impleaded by the petitioner and the answering respondent (law division) is not concerned with subject matter," the reply states.

The government also stated that the attendance of president in the November 12 meeting was not unconstitutional and no fundamental right of the petitioner has been infringed by this act of military officers and the attendance of then president. The reply further said that "as regards the venue of meeting at President's Secretariat or Aiwan-e-Sadr, it is submitted that the president of Pakistan is the head of state and represents the unit of state in term of Article 41(1) of the Constitution, therefore, in view of such dignity attached to the office of president of Pakistan the meeting of the court of inquiry might have rightly been held at the President's Secretariat.

The government said that that according to Article 46 of the constitution, the prime minister was bound to brief the president on internal affairs, foreign policy issues and legislation. It also stated that no fundamental right of the petitioner was violated, adding that Article 47 of the constitution relates to the impeachment of the president and does not relate to the subject matter. PML-N chief and the incumbent Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif petitioned in the Supreme Court and prayed the court to probe the memo scandal. Army chief Gen Kiani and then DG ISI Gen Pasha had also submitted their replies in the court.

Later, the court formed a judicial commission comprising chief justices of Balochistan and Sindh high courts to probe the issue in depth. After recording the statements the commission gave adversarial findings against Haqqani, who did not appear before the commission citing security issues; however the commission had exonerated President Zardari from this scandal. The memo case is pending in the apex court since November 2011.

The Supreme Court had on Tuesday sought the federal government's reply until September 10 on the petition against Zardari. The court had told the petitioner that the federation had to be given a notice about his application for the constitution of a new bench to hear the matter involving Zardari and Husain Haqqani.

Shahid Orakzai had claimed that Haqqani's efforts to install a new security set-up under the political government were exposed by an American businessman, Mansoor Ijaz, who leaked the memorandum communicated to then US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen. He submitted that the incumbent Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif thereafter took the matter to the Supreme Court in November 2011 and it is still pending.


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