`Pak PM was just ordered to write letter to Switzerland`

The SC initiated the contempt case against Pak PM after he refused to reopen cases of alleged money laundering against Asif Ali Zardari.

Zeenews Bureau

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s lawyer on Thursday presented the UN report on immunity for Heads of States before the Supreme Court.

The report, titled "Preliminary report on immunity of State officials from foreign criminal jurisdiction", was tabled during 60th session of United Nations General Assembly in 2008.

On Wednesday, Aitzaz cited Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, and Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963, besides State Immunity Ordinance (vi) of 1981.

Supreme Court Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, however, today said that the Vienna convention provides immunity to diplomats and consular staff, but not to presidents.

The seven–member bench, hearing the contempt case against Gilani, said a president only enjoys immunity under the Vienna Convention when he is travelling abroad.

According to the Express Tribune, Gilani’ lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan had earlier stressed that Gilani cannot write the letter until Asif Ali Zardari is the incumbent president since he enjoys constitutional immunity.

Aitzaz also requested that this case be referred to a larger bench and completed his arguments on Article 10-A of the Pakistan Constitution.

The court, however, observed that the president’s immunity is not relevant in this regard and has to be invoked by the president if he wishes to claim it.

Justice Nasirul Mulk said the court has only ordered the Prime Minister to write a letter to Swiss authorities to re-open graft cases against National Reconciliation Order (NRO) beneficiaries.

The apex court initiated the contempt case against Gilani after he refused to act on orders to reopen cases of alleged money laundering against President Asif Ali Zardari in Switzerland.

The government has said the cases cannot be revived as the President enjoys immunity in Pakistan and abroad.

The apex court has been pushing the government to reopen the cases against Zardari since December 2009, when it annulled the National Reconciliation Ordinance, a graft amnesty issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

Gilani has said he would prefer to be jailed in the contempt case than violate the Constitution by approaching Swiss authorities to revive the graft cases.

(With Agencies’ inputs)