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By SHAMS Z. ABBAS
Saturday, 2 October 2010.
LAHORE, Pakistan—Former President Musharraf has tendered an apology to the nation for accepting the advice of his politicians to invoke the NRO and withdraw corruption cases against Benazir Bhutto as demanded by her. Although the ultimate responsibility remains his, Benazir Bhutto is equally culpable. But, as Head of the State, it is appropriate that he has accepted the mistake.
Remembering that, ‘Forgiveness is the economy of the heart. Forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits.(Hannah Moore)’, we now should leave this debate behind and move forward with the prosecution of the NRO beneficiaries.
President Zardari and his cohorts are trying to wriggle their way out either by tampering with the NAB law through an ordinance or hiding behind the Law of Immunity. Sadly, some known lawyers, e.g. Aitizaz Ahsan, etc. defend these beneficiaries on grounds of immunity.
To an ordinary mind, Article 248 of the constitution, Clause 1 and 2 must be read in conjunction. There is no question of immunity for personal acts committed before the assumption of power by the President. As such, defense on grounds of immunity, in the case, is the worst kind of intellectual and moral corruption. This is as bad as the invocation of the NRO itself.
Lawyers who were supposed to be torch bearers of the Rule of Law movement are not expected to think tangentially for party interest at the cost of ethics [Mr. Ahsan, for example, is a PPP member]. They should remain focused on a single point agenda, namely there can be no compromise in the implementation of the Rule of Law. Towards that end, I feel the Courts have shown sufficient restraint and it is time to expedite all cases including the Air Marshal Asghar Khan petition known as the Mehrangate scandal. There may also be a review of the setting-aside of Nawaz’s conviction in the Musharraf plane hijacking case. It should not be perceived as a reward to Nawaz for his help in the restoration of the judges. Alternately, Nawaz Sharif may similarly seek an apology from the people of Pakistan.
Further, I think as Gen. Musharraf has now come before the nation and spoken his mind on the issue, all others should come out clean. Self or party interest should not reign supreme.
A fine example has been set by Senator Raza Rabbani [PPP] who walked out of the assembly and sided with the opposition when the newly promulgated NAB Ordinance for butchering accountability for all times was discussed. Ifthikhar Husain Gilani, Naheed Khan, Safdar Abbasi and others are also setting fine examples which can bring about a change in the ways of the PPP which has been hijacked by the most controversial people Pakistani politics has known. This is the way for helping democracy to survive.
Mr. Abbas is based in Lahore. Reach him at
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