I had tweeted as follows last night: “Nothing dramatic likely tomorrow”
2. Nothing dramatic has happened in Islamabad today. Justice Asif Khosa, the single Judge of the Pakistan Supreme Court who has been hearing the petition relating to the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), has reportedly issued a notice to Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani asking him to show cause why action for contempt of court cannot be taken against him . He has asked Gilani to personally appear before him on January 19 to give his explanation.
3. Gilani will have the following options: Either refuse to appear before the Judge on the ground that the Judge has no jurisdiction to summon him or go in appeal to the Chief Justice for the appointment of a larger bench to hear the case.
4. If Gilani refuses to appear, the single judge can pass an ex-parte order holding him guilty of contempt of court and directing him to vacate his office as the Prime Minister. Gilani can go in appeal against this order too before a larger bench. In the worst case scenario, President Asif Ali Zardari can refuse to implement this order and move for the impeachment of the Judge on grounds of violating the Constitution.
5. Mansoor Ijaz, the US citizen of Pakistani origin, who levelled the original allegations against Hussain Haqqani, former Pakistani Ambassador to the US, is reported to have sought time till January 25 to appear before the Commission headed by the Chief Justice of the Balochistan High Court, which has been asked by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury, to enquire into the allegations made by Ijaz.
6. It is doubtful as of now whether Ijaz, who has reportedly been shuttling between Geneva and London without going back to the US since he levelled his allegations against Haqqani in November last, will go to Pakistan to testify before the Commission. He is a US citizen. His bread and butter and most of his investments are in the US. James Woolsey, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency under President Bill Clinton, is one of his business partners.
7. Ijaz is, therefore, amenable to US pressure. He is unlikely to do anything which might displease the US Government and his friends in the US Administration. Many in the US Administration and Congress have strong sympathies with Hussain Haqqani. They would not like Ijaz to do anything further that could harm Haqqani. Ijaz would be under considerable pressure not to testify before the Pakistani Commission.
8. If he finally decides not to testify, the case against Haqqani could fail. In their conduct and remarks, Zardari and Gilani are exhibiting considerable self-confidence vis-à-vis the Army. Their confidence could be attributable to their conviction that the US will prevent Ijaz from testifying. It has to be seen whether this proves to be correct( 16-1-12)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )