On 26th June 2013, Attorney General [AG] of Pakistan Munir A Malik informed the Supreme Court during proceedings of the NRO implementation case that a second letter signed by the then Federal Law Secretary Yasmin Abbasey was sent to Swiss authorities under explicit directions of the previous government without the apex court’s knowledge. AG Mr Malik told the bench that:
“I received information about refusal of the Swiss authorities on the night of June 20, 2013, and was required to file an appeal by June 24. We have filed an appeal with the request to condone the few days’ delay.”
The 3-judge bench of the Supreme Court and many others in the courtroom were astonished when the AG Mr Malik placed a copy of that letter before the court. The letter, written by the then Federal Law Secretary Justice (r) Yasmin Abbasey, contained that:
‘The requests for mutual legal assistance made earlier in 1997 were illegal, having no legal effect, are hereby withdrawn by the government of Pakistan and may be treated as never written.
Further, that the orders regarding closure of the cases by former AG Abdul Qayyum on 25th May 2008, were final and could not be reopened under the Swiss laws.
AND that the steps taken on the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan were essentially political, and in the eyes of the Republic of Pakistan, the criminal proceedings had been closed and could not be reopened.’
Accordingly the Swiss lawyer extended the decision of Pakistani authorities to the Swiss government. The Swiss authorities had conveyed their approval to the Government of Pakistan on 4th February 2013, but it was brought on the record on 14th June 2013, and that too after the incumbent government [of PML(N)] asked its ambassador in Geneva to start proceedings. The incumbent government could appeal against the decision of the Swiss authorities within 10 days.
The letter said that the government was not interested in reopening cases against President Asif Ali Zardari and sought a reply stating the closure of cases from Swiss authorities in that regard. The apex court was told that the ministry of law had also destroyed all the proof related to the second letter till the PML(N) government had to procure its copy through Pakistan’s Ambassador at Geneva.
Chief Justice Iftikhar M Chaudhry remarked that the then AG [Irfan Qadir] and the Federal Law Ministry kept the court in the dark.
A revelation that a letter was written on 22nd November 2012 to the Swiss authorities, through Dr Nicholas Jaanding, their lawyer in Geneva, in secret and running counter to an earlier letter to them at the behest of the Supreme Court, really jolted the whole nation. Transparency, honesty and accountability do not matter in Pakistani politics – in fact it never have been since decades.
Three leading figures of the last PPP government – the Federal Law Minister Farooq Naek, PM Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and the Federal Law Secretary Yasmin Abbasey – conspired together to deceive the judiciary and [by extension] the whole nation.
[While bowing their heads at last before the Supreme Court Bench hearing ‘implementation of NRO judgment’ in early days of November 2012, Farooq Naek had secretly visited Switzerland to settle the whole game. After putting their cards in order there in Switzerland, the PPP’s law minister and the Attorney General (AG had submitted to the bench that the long awaited letter would be sent to the Swiss authorities for re-opening of Zardari’s cases.) The said letter, approved by the SC was then despatched on 5th November 2012.]
The three rogues urged the Swiss government to refrain from [possible] re-opening of the money-laundering cases against President Zardari, and wrote another letter after seventeen days asking that the effects of a previous letter be annulled. The second letter contained that the government of Pakistan had closed all such cases against the President, and that the cases would remain closed and would never be re-opened.
The Swiss authorities acted on the contents of the secretly sent second letter [because it suited them and their economy] and withdrew all previous letters written by the government of Pakistan regarding the money-laundering charges against Mr Zardari.
It may not be out of place to mention that when the PPP government had taken reigns of the government in 2008, Justice (Rtd) Qayyum Malik, who was the Attorney General of Pakistan (AG) in Gen Musharraf’s times, was kept in tact with the same posting though PPP high ups were die-hard enemy of his person. [One can recall the judgments passed by J Qayyum Malik against Benazir Bhutto and Zardari in 1997 and the famous episode of J Qayyum’s quit from judiciary in 2001 over Saifur Rehman’s audio tapes row.]
On 22nd May 2008, AG Qayyum Malik sent letter to the Swiss Authorities apprising them that Government of Pakistan had no intentions to pursue the said investigations and trial in $60million money laundering cases connected with SGS and Cotecna involving Benazir Bhutto & Zardari AND that the cases may be treated as closed. AG Qayyum Malik was also sent to Switzerland to see the concerned Swiss officials to make sure that the investigations had been expeditiously and actually ended.
In November 2009, when the PPP government had known that they had been betrayed and beaten in the National Assembly due to internal intrigues and the NRO was not going to get accent by majority of the members on floor, they successfully managed to snatch and lift away the whole record of SGS and Cotecna cases from the Swiss offices through Wajid Shamsul Hassan and Rehman Malik; recall the GEO TV’s footage of those days in which Mr Hassan was shown running away on a footpath of Geneva with twelve hefty boxes of record; still that record is missing.
This stance [of writing a 2nd letter secretly] has violated the whole judgement of the Supreme Court passed on 16th December 2009 and a number of other subsequent judgements passed in the NRO implementation case, which had ordered the executive authorities to seek the revival of the Swiss cases. The Supreme Court has gone upset.
Meanwhile a 2-member enquiry team, comprising of Secretary Establishment and DG Intelligence Bureau, has been constituted to look into this latest state sponsored forgery. The nation would wait what was at the tip of that iceberg.
Attorney General Munir Malik informed the SC that the government would appeal the Swiss government decision; the matter stands adjourned. Whatever immunity President Zardari currently enjoys by virtue of his position lapses when he leaves the presidency in just over two months.
May be Mr Zardari to quit earlier, the rope is getting tight around.