Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pakistan Court Hears Claim of US Interference

ISLAMABAD, Dec 14: The federal government’s lawyer Kamal Azfar on Monday stunned the Supreme Court bench hearing challenges to the controversial NRO by saying that he alluded to the American CIA and the GHQ (General Headquarters) when he cautioned in the petition he had filed last week about threats that could derail the democratic system in Pakistan.

“You want me to say it more openly? The danger comes from the CIA and the GHQ,” Mr Azfar responded after the 17-judge bench repeatedly asked him what apprehensions he had in mind about the democratic set-up.

The counsel, however, hastened to add that these were his personal views when Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday asked him to say so in writing. The judge said if there were threats from the CIA or the GHQ, these concerned the executive.

“Look what we have done to Pakistan which otherwise (was) destined to become an Asian tiger, but one prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was hanged while the other, Benazir Bhutto, was killed,” Mr Azfar bemoaned.

Mr Azfar’s remarks in the court sent ripples across the country the moment it was beamed on television channels. In the evening, Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani met Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, and though no details were available, the matter was believed to have come up during the discussion.

The federal government had on Thursday filed a petition in the Supreme Court expressing fears that any decision on the NRO “outside what petitioners had sought” could destabilise the democratic system.

The court was visibly disturbed with a paragraph in the petition which stated: “Pakistan today is poised at the crossroads. One road leads to a truly federal democratic welfare state with the balance of power between an independent judiciary, a duly elected government representing the will of the people and a determined executive which is fighting the war against terrorism and poverty. The second road leads to destabilisation of the rule of law. The people of Pakistan await your verdict.”

Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry again observed that the court was here to guard democracy and the rule of law.

Read it all here.

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