ISLAMABAD - The government ultimately sent the long overdue letter against President Asif Ali Zardari to the Swiss authorities, in compliance with an order of the Supreme Court last month.

According to the state-run PTV, the communication was sent on Monday (Nov 5) through the Foreign Office.

The text of the letter is the same as approved by the apex court. On the last date of hearing the government was given four weeks to have the letter translated in French and delivered to the relevant authorities.

Now the matter will be taken up on November 14, when the court will examine afresh the text and see the delivery receipt.

The government was under an obligation to send the letter when the court had annulled the National Reconciliation Ordinance in 2009. The NRO was a legislation enacted by then president Gen Pervez Musharraf in the light of a political agreement he had struck with PPP leader Benazir Bhutto to withdrawn corruption and criminal cases against over 8,000 leaders, activists and bureaucrats. In return for the NRO, the PPP had legitimised the election of the military leader for a second five-year term as the head of state. Unlike many other political parties, the PPP had participated in the presidential election.

In the light of the NRO, then attorney general Malik Muhammad Qayyum had sent a letter to the Swiss authorities telling them that the cases against Mr Zardari stood closed. The PPP leader was accused to have stashed $60 million in Swiss banks.

However, when the NRO was declared null and void, all cases stood reopened. The government was legally duty-bound to write another letter to the Swiss authorities to inform them that it was withdrawing the earlier letter in compliance with the apex court order.

However, the government refused to write the letter on the plea that the president enjoyed immunity from prosecution. It further said that the letter would not be written as long as Mr Zardari was the head of state.

President Zardari, who is also co-chairman of the ruling PPP, said in a TV interview that “my government will not write the letter, come what may”.

He said the letter would amount to putting the grave of Benazir Bhutto on trial, which he would never allow anyone to do.

Then prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was summoned by the apex court thrice where he said in very categorical terms that he would not write the letter even if he was removed as the head of government. He stuck to his guns even when the court issued him a notice on contempt charge.

After prolonged legal wranglings, the court convicted Mr Gilani on contempt charge, because of which he ceased to hold the office of the prime minister. He was also disqualified for any public office for five years.

Law Minister Farooq H Naek said in an interview that there was not a single dollar in the alleged Swiss accounts of President Zardari.

However, a former law minister Babar Awan was of the view that the letter is a great conspiracy against President Zardari and he will feel the heat in due course.

Whether the case against the incumbent prime minister comes to an end after the letter has been sent, will be clear on the next date of hearing.

The text of the letter approved by the Supreme Court is as under:

Attorney General

Islamabad

October 2012

Geneva, Switzerland

Re: PP/11105/1997 and CP 289/97.

Dear Sir,

This is with reference to the letter dated 22nd May 2008 addressed by Malik Mohammad Qayyum, the then Attorney General of Pakistan to Mr. Daniel Zappelli, Attorney General, Geneva, Switzerland.

In view of the directions given by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in Paragraph 178 (copy attached as Annex-I) of its Judgment dated 16th December 2009 in the case of Dr. Mobashir Hasan, reported as PLD 2010 SC 265, the aforesaid letter is hereby withdrawn and may be treated as never written and therefore revival of requests, status and claims, is sought.

This is without prejudice to the legal rights and defences of the Presidents/Heads of State which may be available under the law, constitution and international law.

Yours sincerely

Secretary