‘Pak`s democratic system facing threat from CIA, Army’

Last Updated: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - 00:15

Islamabad: A Pakistan government lawyer
on Monday caused consternation in the Supreme Court when he
contended that the country`s democratic system was facing a
threat from the Central Intelligence Agency and the General
Headquarters of the Pakistan Army.

Lawyer Kamal Azfar made the remarks before a 17-judge
bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry that is
hearing petitions against an amnesty granted to President Asif
Ali Zardari and over 8,000 others under a law that expired
last month.

During today`s proceedings, the bench asked Azfar to
explain apprehensions expressed in a written statement last
week that the case had the potential to destabilise the
democratic system.

Azfar had claimed that Pakistan was poised at the
crossroads, with one road leading to a federal democratic
welfare state and the second to destabilisation.

After being grilled by the judges, who insisted he
should identify the forces that could destabilise democracy,
Azfar said there are extra-constitutional forces within and
outside Pakistan that could derail the democratic set-up.

"We have apprehensions (about the) CIA and (army’s)
General Headquarters," he said.

The bench then directed the federal government and
the law and justice secretary to submit affidavits by tomorrow
explaining on whose instructions Azfar had made his
submissions in court.

Acting Attorney General Shah Khawar too was asked to
explain the government`s position. However, Khawar distanced
himself from Azfar`s remarks, telling reporters that they
represented the lawyer`s personal views and not those of the
government.

Khawar also said the government had made it clear to the
apex court that it would not defend the National
Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), the law that granted immunity
to people accused of corruption.

Azfar, who is representing the Law Ministry in the case,
had said in his statement to the apex court that it should not
derail the democratic system while deciding the NRO case.

Legal experts believe Zardari, whose approval ratings
have hit rock bottom, could face more problems if the apex
court declares the NRO unconstitutional and challenges his
eligibility for the post of President.

Zardari has dismissed the corruption charges against him,
saying they were "politically motivated and fabricated by the
previous military regime". He has maintained that he enjoys
immunity from prosecution by virtue of holding the post of
President.

Meanwhile, the apex court today accepted senior PML-N
leader and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif`s petition to
become party to the NRO case.
It also described details provided by the National
Accountability Bureau, an anti-corruption watchdog, about
Zardari`s foreign assets and expenditures on a graft case in
Switzerland as incomplete and sought a comprehensive report.

NAB officials told the court that Rs 190 million was paid
to Swiss lawyers while Rs 4.1 million was spent on foreign
visits by government officials.

The Pakistan government had last year asked the Swiss
government to drop the case against Zardari and other accused.

The apex court later adjourned the hearing till tomorrow.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - 00:15

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