5 years ago217 views
A shameful move: Swiss saga again
http://dawn.com/news/1021329/a-shameful-move-swiss-saga-again EVEN the end isn’t the end, it appears. The long-running Swiss cases/letter saga that seemingly had finally come to a close last November has been revived in the most astonishing manner. Attorney General Muneer Malik informed the Supreme Court on Wednesday that the law ministry had written a second, secret letter to the Swiss in November; a second letter that directly contradicted the purpose of the first, court-mandated letter. What is most egregious here is the manner in which the law ministry appears to have been used by President Zardari as his personal law firm. As the primary target of the Swiss proceedings, Mr Zardari has the right to defend himself and put forward his own interpretation of the relevant laws. But if that is what the president wanted to achieve, he should have hired Swiss representatives in his personal capacity to lobby or appeal to the Swiss authorities regarding his point of view — and not used state resources to achieve that. In fact, by having the law ministry involved in contradictory missives — one authorised by the Supreme Court; the other presumably emanating from the presidency or his supporters in government — the government appears to have deliberately created severe ambiguity and doubt with the intention of preventing the Swiss from developing any interest in carrying the proceedings there forward.
Still, for all the too-clever-by-half strategising by the PPP legal brain trust, there are political and legal issues, that remain to be settled with an eye on a bigger pur-pose and context. Nawaz Sharif’s government has already indicated its intention to launch an appeal against the Swiss authorities’ decision to not reopen the proceedings involving Mr Zardari — something that the government is well within its legal right to do but which must also be weighed against the possibility of success and the impact it could have on domestic political stability. The principal lesson from the bad old days of the ’90s is that the politics of revenge tend to undermine the system. When heads of parties go after each other and their families, the political system is destabilised. Mr Sharif, if he is serious about pursuing the Swiss cases, should demonstrate an equal willingness to look within his own party’s ranks for misdeeds and corruption. As for the court, the anomaly has long been pointed out: why the endless fixation with a single individual among the many thousands of NRO beneficiaries? Justice is best served when it is seen as even-handed, above-board and without ulterior motives.