Prior Convictions and Pakistan’s President

Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari

In the last few weeks, news reports have appeared in the US which mischaracterize the history of allegations against Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari. The publication “KGS Nightwatch,” a nightly national security newsletter, reported that  Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari “was disqualified from the start to ever serve in any public office because of his prior graft convictions and ongoing criminal investigations in Switzerland.” An NPR story reported that “the government of Switzerland opened an investigation into Zardari’s financial dealings, but the case was closed with no action taken.” These reports are factually incorrect.

Here are the facts: Asif Zardari was first convicted in 1999 by the Lahore High Court on corruption charges. In 2001, Pakistani intelligence documents including recording of phone conversations leaked to The Sunday Times (UK) showed that the presiding judge, Justice Malik Muhammad Qayyum, had been secretly colluding on the case with PML-N officials including then Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif. Pakistan’s Supreme Court overturned the conviction in 2001.

In 1998, then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also initiated a case on the same allegations against Asif Zardari in Switzerland (not the Swiss authorities themselves). A Swiss magistrate convicted Zardari in absentia in 2003, but later that same year, a Swiss tribunal overturned the conviction on appeal. While it is true that opposition politicians continued to press the cases in Switzerland, they had not been able to secure a conviction by the time the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) was promulgated four years later. Daniel Zappelli, Geneva’s chief prosecutor, told Reuters in 2008 that “In the SGS/Cotecna case, no funds belonging to Benazir Bhutto were found,” and that he did not have sufficient evidence to bring Zardari to trial.

In short, neither conviction was able to withstand scrutiny.

Both convictions must be viewed in the historical and political contexts in which they were carried out. The Lahore High Court was proven to be pursuing the original case against in collaboration with government officials. Additionally, during the 1990s, the ISI was carrying out a secret program to defeat PPP candidates. Nawaz Sharif has also reported admitted that the Ehtesab (Accountability) Bureau initiated political cases against PPP leaders.

Nowhere does Pakistan’s constitution prohibit the subject of ongoing investigations or the victim of political attacks from holding public office. In contrast to recent news reports, Asif Zardari was and is eligible to serve as President of Pakistan. Reports that suggest otherwise erroneously and unhelpfully undermine the credibility Pakistan’s burgeoning democratic system.

4 thoughts on “Prior Convictions and Pakistan’s President

  1. Pakistan has fortune to make political cases against political leaders. Specially PPP leaders mostly victimised in this regard. I think that masses are the best judges in a political system. whenever general elections held in Pakistan PPP wins. That is the verdict of masses.

  2. History ia a witness that PPP political leaders has been criticised, murdered and supressed in Pakistan through different ways….

  3. I know that PPP give many Sacrifices for Pakistan.the enemies of PPP blamed illegal excuses on PPP but its not true.our collage is running under the authority of Nawaz Sharif’s party it is not their property because it is the property of Pakistan some peopel of Nawaz Sharif’s party like Wasim Aktr Shaik (MNA)and new person MUbasar Nawaz who is selected as new member as (MNA)set and some particular person of Sardar asaf (past MNA) plying with my and my friends future in our collage i am considered as a leader of my collage and i was standing against those people who are plying with our future.BY the support of my enemies they pushed my voice against them because the know that if my voice spread in district kasur so the will not win the next set of MNA and they they harm me by many way and now i am not able to fight against them and now i am deciding to left Pakistan for many years

    zeeshan noor

    s/o Noor Muhammad

    Government collage of commerce kasur (had gived the exams and waiting for result)

  4. By reading this article we can assume that Mr. Asif Ali Zardari is an angel on Earth. Most of the people in Pakistan believe that Mr. Zardari has a role in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto as he is the person having most advantage of that.

    He was famous as Mr. 10% in the previous Government of PPP. Now he is famous as Mr. Hundred Percent in this Government. He has a wonderful mind as he is controlling all his critics and opposition leaders wonderfully well. No matter how corrupt you are, if you know that art you are the most successful person on Earth.

    Similarly majority of the people including Fatima Bhutto claims that Asif Ali Zardari is the person that ordered the Murder of Murtaza Bhutto, the son of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. However “might is right” is the law in Pakistan and under that law President Zardari is the most fit person to be President of Pakistan for another term also.

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