Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Legal Advice for Pakistan’s President Zardari

Posted by K.E. White on December 19, 2009

Cyril Almeida criticizes President Asif Ali Zardari’s decision to aggressively fight the Supreme Court over an executive order shielding him and others from criminal prosecution.

Enacted by former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in 2007, the National Reconciliation Order (NRO) barred politically motivated cases against selected individuals. NRO’s beneficiaries exceed 8,000 individuals, on charges ranging from corruption to murder. Convicted of money-laundering in Switzerland, the NRO shielded Zardari from corruption charges in Pakistani courts. Pakistan’s Supreme Court unanimously overruled the executive order last Wednesday.

The editorial hits Zardari for exposing himself to humiliating, public courtroom proceedings. But, interesting, the article morphs from polemic to legal memo–pointing out that other, though similarly futile, courtroom options would have better served Zardari in this legal battle:

There was, quite frankly, disbelief in legal circles that Zardari opted to give the petitioners and judges an open court, as it were, during the NRO hearings. A first-year law student could tell you that you never, ever go to court without a strategy, without a game plan, without something to say in your defence no matter how hopeless the cause.

The threat to Zardari was obvious: there may have been 8,000 beneficiaries of the NRO, but there was only one Mr NRO — Asif Zardari. Forget the judges, from the comments of the petitioners and their lawyers inside and outside the court it was obvious that the primary target was the president.

And this legal bundle does not only harm Zardari and his political party, but the fabric of Pakistan’s civil society. Almeida’s conclusion:

But the key to a brighter political future, or any political future for that matter, is not about tactics right now for Zardari. It is about understanding that his basic approach needs to change: between all-out aggression and total surrender lies a supple approach that prizes the small wins in big losses and accepts the small losses in big wins.

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One Response to “Legal Advice for Pakistan’s President Zardari”

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