By Rauf Klasra
ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari reportedly dropped a bombshell in the PPP parliamentary party meeting the other night when he made the shocking confession that he was betrayed and trapped by top players of the game in the NRO case.
He told the shocked members that he was given certain assurances in exchange for not defending it before the Supreme Court. A top source said the betrayed president had believed in what he was offered.
Without identifying anyone, Zardari said the “players of the game” did not execute their promise and the cases against him were reopened despite earlier secret assurances. In his concluding remarks after some fiery speeches by his party men, Zardari was said to have told them in his firm style though he was betrayed and trapped but he was not down and would not take any “dictation” from any one and would face the current hostile situation, as he had been doing in the past.
Some top insiders claimed that Mr Zardari opened his heart before his party men first time and shared the top secrets pertaining to his government policy not to defend NRO in the SC last year, which had greatly surprised the media, society and even the lawyers. But finally, a besieged Mr Zardari shared his secret as to why he had asked the law ministry not to take any position in the court during the hearing of NRO case, which had led to unanimous verdict of 17 judges on this controversial law.
The parliamentary party meeting was held in the Presidency with Mr Zardari in the chair. Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani also attended the meeting. Sources said Senator Dr Safdar Abbasi tempted Mr Zardari when he started a heated discussion on the NRO case and clearly told the president that now the PPP government should respect the judiciary as it had missed the bus when it did not defend the NRO in the SC last year.
Dr Safdar Abbasi was the only parliamentarian in the PPP who since challenging of the NRO in the court by Dr Mubashir Hassan had been saying on record that the PPP government should have defended the NRO in the SC. He argued that PPP should give its side of the story and explain those circumstances, which had actually led to promulgation of NRO and how this law had helped even the judges when a democratic government had released them followed by their restoration. But his voice was never given any importance in the PPP circles.
Dr Abbasi once again repeated his old stance in the parliamentary party meeting and lamented that now it was too late to submit a review petition in the SC and challenge the unanimous verdict of the court, as the judges had already collected a lot of documentary and other relevant stuff from NAB against Mr Zardari and others. He argued that the SC had now gathered sufficient proofs to proceed further.
He said had PPP government taken a firm stand in the court, things might have much better for the president and the party today. Dr Abbasi also spoke at length about the poor economy and issue of terrorism, as he believed the government was not doing enough for the poor who formed the backbone of the party.
Sources said after hearing the arguments of Dr Safdar Abbasi, President Zardari surprisingly admitted his mistake, saying the PPP government should have taken a position and defended the NRO in SC.
Mr Zardari further revealed that actually he was “deceived and trapped” by some powerful players of the game, indicating that initially a decision was taken to strongly defend the NRO in the SC. But, he claimed, suddenly some “top guns” gave him some authentic assurances on the basis of which he decided not to defend the NRO in the SC.
He did not reveal who had given him such assurances. But, Mr Zardari told his surprised party colleagues that they need not worry as of now he would not take any dictation from any side and would face all those forces, which were out against him. “I will deal with them as I have been dealing in the past”, one source quoted him as saying.
Meanwhile one inside source said at the time of hearing of NRO case in the SC, a Karachi-based former judge who enjoyed good reputation and was considered to be a credible person had visited the Presidency and secretly met Asif Ali Zardari. In this meeting, the former judge had told Mr Zardari that he should not worry about the Swiss cases, as they were closed transaction.
The former judge advised Mr Zardari to believe in him and should not defend NRO in the court and he assured him that the judges would not open the cases against him.
Mr Zardari later discussed this judge’s advice with his top legal aides and Babar Awan was the only minister who had strongly opposed the idea. Babar Awan had told Mr Zardari that his government should strongly defend NRO in the court with all its power and arguments, instead of leaving the field open for the judges to give any kind of judgment against him.
But Awan’s advice was ignored as Zardari tended to believe in the so-called assurance given by the former judge, who had also taken some drafts with him to convince Zardari how it was in his own benefit not to defend the controversial law promulgated by a military dictator.
When the NRO verdict came Zardari had the shock of his life when he came to know that SC had ordered reopening of cases against him including the Swiss cases, which were closed a year ago. Zardari was said to have commented after reading the explosive contents of NRO judgment that a former judge had clearly used his credibility to trap him.
Meanwhile, sources said, PM Gilani also told the party men that the PPP government had a lot of respect for the judiciary but his government would continue to give its own point of view on all those issues which were being heard in the court.
Later Babar Awan briefed the parliamentary party members about the current issues concerning the NRO cases against the President. Prime Minister Gilani also told the parliamentary party members that the former minister of state for defence production Abdul Qayyum Jatoi himself had realised his mistake and had offered to resign, which he had accepted. PM Gilani said Jatoi said wrong things about the army and Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhary.
Qayyum Jatoi also spoke on the occasion and said he had said what he believed in because his party leadership was being constantly targeted and he could not tolerate all this nonsense. He said when others attacked his party and its leaders he would defend them. Earlier about ten PPP MNAs showered their unstoppable praise on the person of Mr Asif Ali Zardari and paid rich tributes to his leadership qualities.