ISLAMABAD - As a three-member bench of the Supreme Court will resume the hearing of the NRO implementation case today (Thursday), sources say the government may request the court to give some time for reply.

Sources told The Nation the attorney general, who was directed to get Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf’s instruction for writing a letter to the Swiss authorities, would inform the court that the premier had sent the letter to the Law Ministry for its opinion.

They said the prime minister directed the law minister to present the opinion, who informed the cabinet that he had received the letter from premier on July 10.

The minister further said he and the law secretary had recently taken the charge and needed some time for a thorough study of case to brief the cabinet and present their view in the court, after which the cabinet allowed the Law Ministry to work on the subject. However, the prime minister directed him that the response should be prepared on an urgent basis. In the last hearing, the apex court hoped that the newly-elected prime minister would comply with the orders and write letter to the Swiss authorities for reopening cases against the NRO beneficiaries, including President Asif Ali Zardari. It, therefore, directed Attorney General Irfan Qadir to obtain instruction from the premier regarding the implementation of Para 178 of NRO judgment and inform the court on July 12.

Due to the non-implementation of NRO judgment, Yousuf Raza Gilani had to leave his office. The puzzling question is whether the same process would be adopted if Raja Pervaiz Ashraf in fidelity to President Asif Ali Zardari refuses to write letter to Swiss authority, or the court would go for another option out of the six options that were given in the ex-PM contempt matter.

The other option for implementation of 17-member verdict could be option No 3, which says: “In exercise of its powers under Article 187 of the Constitution read with Rules 1 and 2 of Order XXXII of the Supreme Court Rules, 1980 and all other enabling provisions this Court may appoint a Commission to execute the relevant parts of the judgment passed and directions issued in the case of Dr Mubashir Hassan.”

Taking up the NRO implementation after the disqualification of Yousaf Raza Gilani indicates that the judiciary is unwilling to end a showdown with the government.

On March 8, 2012 the court had directed the former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani that in compliance of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) judgment write letter to the Swiss authorities, regardless of advice of secretaries and submit a compliance report.

Since 2009, the Supreme Court has repeatedly demanded of the Pakistan Peoples Party government to write letter to the Swiss authorities for reopening cases. But the federal government has consistently refused, instead contending that, as president, Zardari enjoys constitutional immunity.

On defiance of the court order show cause notice was issued to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on January 16, 2012. The case stretched on for 14 weeks and on February 13, 2012 framed charges against the PM. The PM filed an Intra-Court appeal, which was also dismissed on February 10.

The seven-member bench headed by Justice Nasir Mulk ultimately convicted and sentenced the ex-prime minister on April 26th April, 2012. Besides the conviction when Gilani not relinquished his office, therefore, in Speaker ruling case disqualified him on June 19.

The NAB DPG would submit the reports about Adnan Khawaja, Imtiaz A Sheikh and Malik Qayyum.