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Prior convictions and Pakistan’s president

In the last few weeks, news reports have appeared in the US which mischaracterize the history of allegations against Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari. The publication“KGS Nightwatch,” a nightly national security newsletter, reported that  Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari “was disqualified from the start to ever serve in any public office because of his prior graft convictions and ongoing criminal investigations in Switzerland.” An NPR story reported that “the government of Switzerland opened an investigation into Zardari’s financial dealings, but the case was closed with no action taken.” These reports are factually incorrect.

Here are the facts: Asif Zardari was first convicted in 1999 by the Lahore High Court on corruption charges. In 2001, Pakistani intelligence documents including recording of phone conversations leaked to The Sunday Times (UK) showed that the presiding judge, Justice Malik Muhammad Qayyum, had been secretly colluding on the case with PML-N officials including then Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif. Pakistan’s Supreme Court overturned the conviction in 2001.

In 1998, then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also initiated a case on the same allegationsagainst Asif Zardari in Switzerland (not the Swiss authorities themselves). A Swiss magistrate convicted Zardari in absentia in 2003, but later that same year, a Swiss tribunal overturned the conviction on appeal. While it is true that opposition politicians continued to press the cases in Switzerland, they had not been able to secure a conviction by the time the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) was promulgated four years later. Daniel Zappelli, Geneva’s chief prosecutor, told Reutersin 2008 that “In the SGS/Cotecna case, no funds belonging to Benazir Bhutto were found,” and that he did not have sufficient evidence to bring Zardari to trial.

In short, neither conviction was able to withstand scrutiny.

Both convictions must be viewed in the historical and political contexts in which they were carried out. The Lahore High Court was proven to be pursuing the original case against in collaboration with government officials. Additionally, during the 1990s, the ISI was carrying out a secret program to defeat PPP candidates. Nawaz Sharif has also reported admitted that the Ehtesab (Accountability) Bureau initiated political cases against PPP leaders.

Nowhere does Pakistan’s constitution prohibit the subject of ongoing investigations or the victim of political attacks from holding public office. In contrast to recent news reports, Asif Zardari was and is eligible to serve as President of Pakistan. Reports that suggest otherwise erroneously and unhelpfully undermine the credibility Pakistan’s burgeoning democratic system.

Source: Americans for Democracy and Justice in Pakistan

A few Comments on the post:

Aijaz Shaikh says:

Pakistan has fortune to make political cases against political leaders. Specially PPP leaders mostly victimised in this regard. I think that masses are the best judges in a political system. whenever general elections held in Pakistan PPP wins. That is the verdict of masses.

 

klashari says:

History ia a witness that PPP political leaders has been criticised, murdered and supressed in Pakistan through different ways….

zeeshan noor says:

I know that PPP give many Sacrifices for Pakistan.the enemies of PPP blamed illegal excuses on PPP but its not true.our collage is running under the authority of Nawaz Sharif’s party it is not their property because it is the property of Pakistan some peopel of Nawaz Sharif’s party like Wasim Aktr Shaik (MNA)and new person MUbasar Nawaz who is selected as new member as (MNA)set and some particular person of Sardar asaf (past MNA) plying with my and my friends future in our collage i am considered as a leader of my collage and i was standing against those people who are plying with our future.BY the support of my enemies they pushed my voice against them because the know that if my voice spread in district kasur so the will not win the next set of MNA and they they harm me by many way and now i am not able to fight against them and now i am deciding to left Pakistan for many years

zeeshan noor

s/o Noor Muhammad

Government collage of commerce kasur

 

About the author

Junaid Qaiser

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  • The allegations against President Asif Ali Zardari have and always will be politically motivated.
    As far as any and all unsubstantiated rumors regarding the Bhuttos and Zardari, before one can gain any perspective one needs to be free of bias- what happens then, is interesting: The history of Pakistan’s politics is a story of patronage, the great land owners and their influence and opportunism, and fear of the military (which is rich and involved in non-military enterprises that reap enormous dividends.)
    Despite flaws in Zardari, he is in fact the best of the current crop of political opponents in Pakistan’s political parties, players (Sharifs are dangerous, Imran Khan is theater as only two example).
    In the PPP and president, you have the best that is currently capable of running a secular, pluralistic government who cares about the on-going bloodletting in Karachi, cares about FATA, KP, and the need for economic stability – noot empty promises- all this is attempting to run government business, under the restrictive and tacit threat of your own personal safety (ISI/Military) and still trying to make a difference.