Zardari, Chaudhry on collision course again

ISLAMABAD: Relation between Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari and Chief Justice Iftkhar Chaudhry is at its lowest ebb, sources said.

They are heading for a showdown once again, this time on the issue of extension in service of prosecutor general of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

A three-member Supreme Court bench on Sept. 1 termed the appointment of the acting Chairman NAB Javed Qazi and Prosecutor General Irfan Qadir as “illegal and unlawful,” and declared the services of Qadir null and void on the grounds that his three-year contract had expired.

The court also ruled that any extension in service would be against the rules and asked the government to appoint a new prosecutor general in consultation with the Law Ministry.

However, the government apparently has had a change of heart on the issue in the subsequent days and appears inclined to challenge the court verdict. Qadir in a statement said that Zardari has directed him to continue with the job till further orders.

“The president is my appointing authority and only he can de-notify the contract,” Qadir said.

Zardari’s official spokesman Farhatullah Babar, when contacted, denied any knowledge about such a notification. The law ministry, on the other hand, has said that Qadir has been asked to vacate the office.

The decision to retain Qadir has outraged both opposition parties as well as leading jurists who are viewing this as another attempt by the government to challenge the authority of the apex court.

The government, led by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), has repeatedly faced accusations of not implementing Supreme Court orders in letter and spirit.

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief and a fierce Zardari critic, said the government was on collision course with the Supreme Court again and did not want the rule of law.

“If President Zardari continues to take such illogical decisions, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani must intervene to save the system and ensure implementation of court orders,” Sharif suggested.

Former chief justice of Sindh High Court, Justice (retd.) Wajihuddin Ahmad termed the decision of the presidency as another attempt to undermine the apex court. “There is no hindrance in the implementation of the SC (Supreme Court) decision,” he stressed, adding that the court must proceed against Qadir on charges of contempt of court.

The critics of the government have been accusing the president on several occasions of trying to appoint and protect his alleged cronies in key positions to safeguard his own interests. They view it as an attempt to keep the corruption cases against Zardari in close wraps.

The NAB, being the accountability arm of the government, has particularly been made docile by appointing close aides of the president and the rulers, and bringing it under the umbrella of the Law Ministry with Babar Awan, legal brain in Zardari’s kitchen Cabinet, as its minister in-charge. -arabnews