Contempt of court case: Well thought-out strategy to save PM

The U-turn by the government in a show-cause notice for contempt of court case against the Prime Minister was not a spur of the moment decision but part of a well thought-out strategy designed to save Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf from disqualification by shifting the onus of implementation the Law Minister, it was learnt reliably.

Well placed sources in the PPP revealed exclusively to this correspondent that the plan to shift the focus of the Supreme Court away from the Prime Minister and towards the Law Minister was chalked out by a handful of senior PPP leaders before Eid-ul-Fitr who then succeeded to convince President Asif Ali Zardari to give his approval.

Initially only a few senior PPP leaders were aware of the strategy. The plan was, however, shared with coalition partners on Monday night, a day before the PM’s appearance before the apex court. Senior Vice President Awami National Party (ANP) Haji Adeel confirmed this and informed this correspondent that the government had taken all the coalition parties on board before the court was informed of the government’s decision to write a letter to Swiss authorities. He maintained that the government decision was a step forward made possible because the apex court showed flexibility.

Sources further revealed that Law Minister Farooq H Naek visited Switzerland during Eid holidays and discussed graft cases with Swiss authorities. The language that would bar Swiss authorities from reopening the graft cases also came under discussion, so maintained the source.

In the event that the apex court insisted on language that would reopen the cases the prevailing legal view amongst the small number of PPP leaders privy to the development of this strategy in its initial stages was that if the PM delegates authority to the Law Minister to write the letter to Swiss authorities advising them to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari then if the Law Minister fails to write a letter then only he would face contempt of court and not the PM. The Law Minister, it was argued, is also better placed to argue each and every word of the letter suggested by the court which could delay the proceedings for some months.

The source added that PPP did not want to lose Raja Pervez Ashraf, a key contender from Gujjar Khan, a PPP safe constituency, by having him disqualified like his predecessor so close to the next general elections which all surveys show would be a close race.

Source: Business Recorder