Gilani: guilty or not?
February 10, 2012
Chaudhary Aitazaz Ahsan, the council of the prime Minister of Pakistan, has pleaded in the contempt of the Court case that his client is not guilty regarding his hesitance to execute the Court orders to reinstate graft cases against the president in a Swiss Court.
Mr. Yousuf Raza Gilani, Aitazaz Ahsan insists, has followed the advice of his subordinate Law Ministry in not implementing the orders of the Supreme Court. While arguing so he cited an Article of the Constitution [248 (2)] which clearly states that the head of the state enjoys absolute immunity from criminal proceedings by any Court of the country. Luckily or unluckily, Switzerland too follows the same law.
The Court had asked the government, through a judgment back in 2009, to write a letter to the concerned Swiss Court that the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), which had made the previous government to write to the court that it was no more interested in the cases it had initiated against Mr. Asif Ali Zardari and his wife, has not been validated by the Court and the Parliament. Even if the government would not have asked the Swiss Court to reopen the cases it could have sought the Court’s opinion whether Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, the president of Pakistan, enjoyed immunity from being tried by any court at home or abroad.
On the matter of writing to Swiss Court by the government to reinstate the cases against the President, it has also been pleaded that doing so would be a futile exercise, for the Swiss Court will not reopen the case for trying a president of a sovereign state falls out of its jurisdiction. The Court seems not be convinced on this point, however, for a clear reason: the question is not that the Swiss Court tries Mr. Asif Ali Zardari or not, but that the government carries the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Will now the Law Minister be summoned by the Court to record his opinion? All depends on the position the PM takes before the 7-member bench on February 13. The Court wants to hear him in person what he has conveyed to it through his Council, read Aitazaz Ahsan. What the Premier pleads there is just a matter of speculation and the same should be left on to the all wise TV anchors.
Till the Premier appears in the Court to defend his contempt charges, and provides the analysts food for thought (he risks being jailed for seven years and barred from holding a public office if he is found guilty), I don’t think I should write on the subject further. But to fill the space of the column as well as retain the interest of the readers, I turn to a similar case filed in Baghdad Court, at the times when Abbasids ruled the roosts.
Centuries before, a Court of Baghdad was approached by a thief (I don’t know personally or through a council) who had got one of his legs (may be both) fractured while getting into a house by the late hours of night. His petition was not only taken as hearable but also the owner of the house was summoned to defend his position. It is worth mentioning that the jurists of the time had got so much concerned with the logics that they had made it controversial whether a crow could be eaten by Muslims or not.
To cut it short, the owner of the house pleaded that he had got his house constructed by a contractor and did not know whether the said window which had damaged a certain body part of the thief had problem with its material or fixed improperly. The carpenter did prove that the culprit, if any, was the mason who had not fixed the article properly. The mason was summoned who duly admitted that he committed negligence in matter of fixing the window, but to the surprise of the Court, he said that he was not guilty. He rather blamed a lady, who had distracted his attention, at the time he was doing his job.
An ordinary looking middle-aged lady appeared in the Court and told the bench: “The guilty, if any, is the weaver who had gifted me bright-colored clothes which I was wearing the day the artisan was working and probably my appearance distracted his attention.” The Court was duly convinced by her argument. One of the members of the bench asked her to tell the name of the weaver. Upon this she burst into tears and pleaded for mercy for the ‘culprit’ was also his husband. When the court ‘forced’ her to disclose the name of her spouse, she pointed to the petitioner, the thief.
Whether the Court of Baghdad nabbed the petitioner and the initiator of “Windowgate” or not I can’t present details in this space, for it put a question mark on the wisdom of judges. Suffice to say is that from Windowgate to Memogate, history is bent on repeating itself in the world we make a part.