‘Pak Swiss letter drafts high in semantics, low on substance'
Islamabad: Insiders have revealed details of the three drafts of the controversial Swiss letter that the Pakistan government intends, albeit reluctantly, to send to Swiss authorities seeking to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.
In the first draft submitted before the Supreme Court on September 25, the letter sought withdrawal of former Attorney General Malik Muhammad Qayyum's letter of May 22, 2008, wherein Qayyum sought withdrawal of graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. There was, however, no mention of revival of shelved cases, and mutual assistance by the government of Pakistan, The Express Tribune quoted sources, as saying.
The court raised objections over the contents of the first draft and the five-judge bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, granted the government 48 hours to redraft the contents of the letter.
The second draft of the letter, submitted on September 26, sought revival and restoration of mutual assistance but the government discussed the history of cases and said all cases were fabricated and politically motivated, the sources said.
The draft also mentioned that honouring international customary laws regarding immunity from prosecution for a head of state are also obligatory for Swiss authorities.
The court, again, was unsatisfied with these amendments and asked Naek during a closed-door meeting that these wordings were not suitable "for the court's dignity".
In the third draft of the letter, submitted on October 5, the government removed some of the "objectionable" content but also included its public claim, for the first time on the court's record, that the president enjoys immunity from prosecution under article 248 (2) of the Constitution.
The court raised objections over the letter again, but this time expressed some satisfaction as well, saying the two sides are inches away from a perfect solution which upholds the dignity of the courts.
Naek, however, made it clear to the court that he will not make any commitment for further improvement in the draft.
According to sources in the law ministry, no headway is expected on the government's side because President Zardari has tasked Naek to not backtrack from the presidential immunity clause.