IT was being expected that the Swiss letter issue would be over on October 5, the day which the Supreme Court had declared as the deadline for the government to present its final draft. However, the matter has been delayed once again till Wednesday (10th of October) as soft-spoken Minister for Law and Justice Farooq Naek managed to bring the superior judiciary in the arena of his choice, taking advantage of the little flexibility shown by the five-member bench of Supreme Court dealing with the NRO implementation, playing with the draft of the letter to be written to Swiss authorities ostensibly for reopening of the graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

During the course of hearing, when Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf expressed the apprehensions about belittling of the office of President of Pakistan in case of writing the letter to Swiss authorities, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa who is heading the five-member bench, said the court would keep in mind the respect and prestige of the office of the president. Taking the remarks as an assurance of accepting presidential immunity, the prime minister agreed to write a letter, delegating the powers to the law minister to finalise the draft in consultation with the apex court.

The Supreme Court wanted that the government should simply withdraw the letter written by then attorney general Malik Qayyum, rescinding the state of Pakistan as a civil party in the cases pending against Benazir Bhutto, President Asif Zardari and other accused. But the proposed draft of the letter clearly mentioned the sovereign immunity available to President Zardari under Article 248 of the Constitution, which would automatically provide grounds for provision of international immunity to him in any sort of criminal proceedings against him.

Now the Pakistan People’s Party’s legal team under the leadership of Mr Naek is playing with the remarks of Justice Asif Saeed Khosa that the apex court too does not want to see the president humbled before some court or investigation judge in Switzerland.

It is crystal clear from the signals coming from the government quarters that they would not write letter to Swiss authorities without strong mention of the immunity available to the president.

If the letter contains mention of sovereign immunity to President Zardari, now main accused in the Swiss cases, the cases would be restored but could not be reopened, vindicating the PPP’s stand on the matter. They would definitely use this issue in the election campaign portraying themselves as a victim at the hands of superior judiciary, which had entangled it in a non-issue.

On the other hand, acceptance of draft letter, containing mention of presidential immunity would place judiciary in an awkward position, and many would start asking why the judges had not shown a similar flexibility to Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, who was disqualified as prime minister for committing contempt of court by not writing the letter.

Knowledgeable sources of the capital claim that the prime minister thinks heavens will not fall if the letter is sent. However, there are others in the party who believe that the prime minister says so because he wants to stay in power.

To rebut this impression, the prime minister has told the president that he is willing to tender resignation and let somebody else wear the mantle of the chief executive. He thinks that the controversy will be over just with the government writing the letter.

The direction of the future situation will become clearer when the government presents the draft of the letter on October 10. Till then, everybody will keep guessing about the likely outcome of the controversy going on for the past three years.


Now that the two-day peace rally of Imran Khan has concluded, in the days ahead political analysts will discuss and examine the impact of the initiative against drone attacks and see to what extent the former cricket hero has achieved his targets. The PTI caravan was stopped by Armed Forces at a check-post near Tank, bordering town of South Waziristan Agency.

The PTI caravan resumed its journey after an overnight stay at D.I. Khan and after bypassing hurdles at various places managed to reach Tank, a gateway to South Waziristan where the Armed Forces stopped the caravan. Then after negotiations with the officials, Imran agreed to hold public rally in Tank instead of proceeding ahead as per announced programme.

The primary objective of the rally was to record concern against unabated drone attacks that have caused casualties of numerous innocent civilians.

The route of the rally was barricaded at many places, but the PTI supporters continued to proceed towards the destination. Many foreign journalists were also with the former cricket hero, who wanted to show them the destruction caused by the drone attacks.

Another objective of the march was to cash in on the anti-American sentiments across the national spectrum by raising voice against the drone strikes. Other parties are not undertaking a similar initiative because they don’t want to annoy the United States, a country which plays an important role in bringing some party to power or getting it removed.

It is yet to be seen how and to what extent the PTI chairman would use this rally in the fortification of his party’s vote bank, but analysts believe that with this rally his popularity graph would definitely improve in KP in particular and elsewhere in general.

But the critics of Imran Khan say that the PTI chief should have gone to North Waziristan, the main target of the drones, which he originally planned to visit. In their opinion a rally to South Waziristan was an exercise in futility.

Concluding the peace caravan without reaching its destination in South Waziristan would bring Imran Khan under criticism and some of the political leaders have already started anti-PTI propaganda.