ISLAMABAD - A decades-long association and strong connectivity of former president Asif Ali Zardari with his legal team will ultimately help him to sustain an increasing pressure on the judicial front, which he is facing nowadays.
The concerned circles believed that the co-chairman Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has an edge on Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif in this regard as the later could not evolve a loyal and permanent legal team with the passage of time.
Currently, two high-profile cases related to Zardari’s assets at Swiss banks and his alleged involvement in money laundering through fake accounts are in headlines, and the proceedings of both cases are underway in the Supreme Court.
People, who are well aware of the developments, say that it is the legal team of former president headed by Farooq Hamid Naek which is protecting him from the ongoing judicial activism.
Farooq H Naek is representing Zardari in both of the cases mentioned above, and it is his magical technique that allows the politician not to appear even on a single date of hearing before the apex court.
“Asif Ali Zardari has a better legal team as compare to Nawaz Sharif,” a senior Supreme Court lawyer said, adding: “Naek’s connectivity with the former president is much stronger than the legal counsels representing Nawaz Sharif in his cases.”
He explained further that the legal team to defend Nawaz Sharif was engaged on ad-hoc bases, which can only be given generalise instructions and he cannot share all the details with them whereas Zardari has a complete mental understanding with his legal team.
“They (the lawyers) are living and breathing with the cases of Asif Ali Zardari from more than last 20 years”, he said, explaining: “His team can better defend their client as they are much familiar with the facts and a complete history of the cases.”
The white-collar crimes are in fact transnational in nature and to understand and prepare them in a short span of time is not an easy task. This is why Zardari is being considered a lucky man because he has the team, which is defending him from last many years.
His robust connectivity and a long association resulted that his team is trying hard to at least avoid any difficulty for him in the courts of law, and one who regularly attends the proceedings can say that his legal team is working wholeheartedly and they are more aggressive while defending him as compared to the lawyers of Nawaz Sharif.
A colleague of Farooq H. Naek, who doesn’t want to be named while sharing his views stated that Naek is the best choice to defend Asif Zardari in the Supreme Court because he had also defended him in the local as well as international courts in similar matters.
Explaining Naek’s way of argument, the senior lawyer said he never offends the judges because he knows the fact that ultimately he will have to make the judge agree to his point to take relief.
“Naek’s positive and submissive behaviour would also count positively in the outcome of the cases,” he maintained, saying: “Every lawyer has its appearance before the court and he has ten out of ten marks in his cool and calm behaviour.”
The foreign assets case, which is again echoing in the Supreme Court nowadays can be traced back to the first term of Benazir Bhutto. However, it was Nawaz Sharif’s government, which first initiated the case in Switzerland in 1998. The lawsuit accused Miss Bhutto and Asif Zardari to have embezzled $60 million in kickbacks in Swiss bank accounts.
Both the leaders were found guilty of the scam in August 2003 and penalties that summed up to a fine of $100,000 imposed while they were ordered to return some $2 million to the government of Pakistan, but this order was suspended on appeal.
In 2007, PPP and military dictator General Pervez Musharraf allegedly managed to negotiate a deal after which the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) was issued, and the corruption case including aforementioned was considered as closed.
Later, former Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry ordered to reopen the Swiss case and, and its elected Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani was sent back to home by apex court when he refused to send a letter to Swiss authorities to reopen the graft case against Asif Ali Zardari.
Now, the top court is once again hearing a petition moved by the president of Lawyers Foundation for Justice, Advocate Feroz Shah Gilani, for the recovery of losses Pakistan had incurred after the promulgation of the NRO.
Naek-led team helping Zardari sustain judicial front