Judiciary Activism - A Timeline from NRO to Memograte (DAWN)
March 9, 2007: Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry is suspended by President Musharraf as he refuses to oblige him by stepping down from his position. Chaudhary is accused of corruption, misdemeanour and stepping out of judicial parameters.
His suspension instigates a political and judicial turmoil over the country, which is considered one of the factors in toppling Musharraf’s government.
July 20, 2007: Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary is reinstated in a ruling headed by Justice Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday.
The ruling is given by a 13 member bench, which unanimously decided that the petitions file by President Musharraf were unfounded and faulty.
October 6, 2007: Musharraf wins the presidential election but is challenged by the Supreme Court.
October 18, 2007: Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto returns from exile, procession to welcome Bhutto home is targeted by a suicide bomber resulting in the death of dozens.
November 3, 2007: President Musharraf declares a state of emergency and suspends the constitution and parliament simultaneously.
Musharraf also orders the house arrest of the Chief Justice and the judges responsible for his reinstatement.
December 15, 2007: President Musharraf lifts emergency rule, the constitution is restored.
December 27, 2007: Benazir Bhutto is killed while leaving a rally in Rawalpindi.
February 18, 2008: General elections are held in Pakistan in which Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League-N win a major chunk of the seats. Both the majority parties form a coalition government in which Yousuf Raza Gilani is elected as the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
June 9, 2008: The long march is launched by lawyers, who seek the restoration of Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry as chief justice. The march concludes in Islamabad on June 14, demanding the ouster of President Musharraf.
August 8, 2008: Ruling coalition (PPP and PML-N) decides, for the third time, to reinstate Chaudhry.
August 18, 2008: President Musharraf resigns after PPP and PML-N launch impeachment proceedings against him.
August 28, 2008: PML-N leaves the coalition, as the government fails to reinstate the chief justice.
September 6, 2008: Asif Ali Zardari wins the presidential election.
16 December 2009: The Supreme Court of Pakistan issues a petition to consider NRO 2007 to be null and void which provided immunity to the offenders of law, including money launderers and embezzlers. The ordinance of 2007 was drafted and approved by President Pervez Musharraf.
The court asks the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to reopen the cases against President Zardari entailing the Swiss scam; allegations which the premier out rightly denies.
October 10, 2011: Mansoor Ijaz writes an article in Financial Times where he reveals that he delivered a memorandum written by a Pakistani official posted in the US to Admiral Mike Mullen. The revelation creates a frenzy of activity in Pakistan bringing the role of then ambassador to the United States, Hussain Haqqani, into question.
The memo is speculated to have been written just after Osama bin Laden’s killing in Pakistan and allegedly seeks help from the US to rein in the country’s military and intelligence agencies.
November 22, 2011: Haqqani resigns from his position amidst chaos and allegations pertaining to him having drafted the controversial memo.
November 23, 2011: Chief of the main opposition party Nawaz Sharif files a petition in the Supreme Court to investigate the memo scandal, now dubbed as ‘memogate’.
Meanwhile, the army starts its own investigation into the events surrounding the subject.
December 22, 2011: Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani publicly announces that he and his party members will not accept ‘a state within a state’; a remark which instigated a sense of disagreement between the civil and military command within the country.
However, General Kayani reiterates that the army does not aim to ‘stage a coup’ and this is another tactic deployed by the government to digress from memo scandal.
December 30, 2011: The Supreme Court of Pakistan declares that the petitions filed by Nawaz Sharif and other political leaders to further investigate the memo scandal, are ‘maintainable’.
A commission is formed by the Supreme Court to probe into the controversial case involving the former Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani.
Later on, Haqqani’s legal counsel, Asma Jahangir declares the decision to be a clear victory of military authority over civilian authority.
January 3, 2012: The Supreme Court of Pakistan issues a warning against the government to implement and execute the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) issued in the December of 2009, by writing to the Swiss government.
The reopening of cases will have repercussions for President Asif Ali Zardari who will then be defending various charges filed against him, including entailing money laundering and corruption.
January 11, 2012: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani terminates the secretary defence, Khalid Naeem Lodhi, on alleged misconduct and disciplinary actions.
The termination instigates Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, COAS, to call for an emergency meeting in Rawalpindi.
Prime minister previously claimed that the COAS and DG-ISI bypassed the defence and interior ministry whilst filing their respective responses in the Supreme Court of Pakistan with respect to memo scandal.
January 16, 2012: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is issued a contempt of court notice in the NRO implementation case, and is directed to appear before the apex court on January 19.
January 17, 2012: The prime minister chose Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan to represent him in the Supreme Court to contest the contempt notice.
On the other hand, the apex court suspended Babar Awan’s licence to practice in the court and asked for a replacement of Awan with another lawyer to represent President Zardari in the Bhutto reference.
Januray 19, 2012: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani appeared in front of the Supreme Court to defend the contempt of court charges filed against him.
During the initial part of the hearing, Gilani reiterated that the president enjoys immunity, according to Pakistani and international laws, which is why they did not correspond with the Swiss government.
In order to access the appropriate records and file a response, the legal counsel to Gilani, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, requested for a grace period of one month.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan adjourned the session by postponing the hearing until February 1, 2012. However, the court has now exempted Gilani from appearing in the next scheduled hearing.
January 23, 2012: Mansoor Ijaz’s counsel Akram Shaikh announced that his client will not come to Pakistan to testify in the memogate controversy. This decision was taken unanimously amidst Shaikh’s concerns regarding Ijaz’s security in Pakistan.
Shaikh has requested the Supreme Court of Pakistan to record his client’s testimony from Zurich or London.
Following Ijaz’s refusal to come to Pakistan, Haqqani filed a new application which entailed a request to revoke Ijaz’s right to testify in the case. The application further stated that Ijaz was given two chances to appear before the Supreme Court, however his failure to present himself should be ample to disqualify him from the proceedings of the case.
January 26, 2012: The Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) summoned Ijaz to appear before the commission on February 10, 2012.
January 30, 2012: The Supreme Court of Pakistan granted judicial commission two more months to investigate the memogate issue, as the original tenure of the commission was scheduled to end today.
Moreover, the court has also eased the restrictions that bound Haqqani to stay in the country.
February 1, 2012: Supreme Court’s hearing pertaining to the contempt of court case against the Prime Minister continued where Ahsan defended the PM by reiterating that though there is no harm in writing a letter to the Swiss authorities, however delay or refusal to correspond with them does not qualify as contempt of court.
Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk responded to the defense clearly by emphasising that the Constitution of Pakistan enables the court to penalise the people who fail to comply with the given orders.
The hearing has adjourned till February 2, 2012.
February 2, 2012: The Supreme Court of Pakistan announced its verdict to indict the Prime Minister for contempt of court.
The premier has been asked to appear before the Supreme Court on February 13, 2012. However, Gilani has decided to file an appeal before the appointed date.
February 8, 2012: Ahsan filed an intra-court appeal requesting the Supreme Court to suspend the decision of framing charges against Gilani.
February 9, 2012: Supreme Court of Pakistan adjourned the contempt of court hearing against Prime Minister Gilani and instructed Ahsan to complete his arguments by February 10, 2012. Chief Justice of Pakistan showed displeasure over certain points of the 200-page appeal and claimed that the language used in the document gave a negative impression of influencing the court of law.
February 10, 2012: An eight-member bench, led by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, dismissed Prime Minister Gilani’s appeal and has summoned him on February 13, 2012 in order to frame court of contempt charges against the premier.
If convicted, Gilani can face up to six months in jail and disqualification from office.
Moreover, the memo commission, established to probe into the controversial memo met in Islamabad High Court to assess if Ijaz’s statements can be recorded from abroad.
The court allowed the memo commission to record Ijaz’s statements via video link from London.
February 13, 2012: The supreme Court of Pakistan indicted Prime Minister Gilani for charges pertaining to contempt of court.
The Supreme court ordered the prosecutor, attorney general, to submit sufficient documents by February 16.
PM’s counsel has been ordered to compile and submit evidence by February22 whereas Gilani’s evidence will be recorded on February 27 and 28.
The hearing has been adjourned till February 22.
February 16, 2012: Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq submitted to the Supreme Court evidence relating to the contempt of court case against Prime Minister Gilani.
The documents comprised 469 pages in four volumes and will be formally displayed before a seven-judge bench headed by Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk on Feb 22 in the absence of prime minister’s counsel Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan.
February 19, 2012: The Secretary of Memo Commission, Jawad Hassan, left for London to record Mansoor Ijaz’s statement via video link.
February 22, 2012: The hearing on contempt of court was further adjourned till February 28. The Supreme Court ordered Ahsan to submit complete evidence by the designated date.
Moreover, the main character of the memo scandal, Mansoor Ijaz, recorded his testimony from London High Commission through a video conference.
Ijaz submitted evidence to the secretary of the commission who sealed them for further investigation.
February 23, 2012: Ijaz continued to testify from London High Commission and admitted that he had prepared the first draft of the controversial memo himself without former ambassador to US Husain Haqqani’s consent.
February 24, 2012: Ijaz’s testimony continued for the third day during which he showed a portion of his phone bill to the commission.
Ijaz said that his telephone was registered on his company’s name and that he cannot reveal the bill’s entire content following which the commission directed its secretary Jawwad Abbas to contact and retrieve the copy of bill from the telephone company and courier it to them.
His testimony against the intelligence agencies was recorded and later on removed from the record by the commission.
February 27, 2012: A day before the formal contempt of court hearing, Gilani’s counsel submitted a miscellaneous application requesting two top government officers and a former law minister to be summoned as court witnesses.
Ahsan requested the court to summon Cabinet and Defence Secretary Nargis Sethi, Law Secretary Masood Chishti and former law minister Babar Awan to record their statements as court witnesses.
February 28, 2012: Ahsan, referring to the various arguments on appeal, said that he wanted to present evidences and witnesses and that a chance should be granted to him to examine them.
Supreme Court adjourned the contempt of court hearing against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani till March 7.
March 1, 2012: Mansoor Ijaz claimed that he had helped former ambassador Husain Haqqani by delivering the purported secret memorandum to the then US military chief because he had information about the possibility of a military coup in Pakistan.
During the cross-examination Ijaz allegedly said he had been briefed by at least four intelligence networks of different countries after the killing of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad on May 2.
He also claimed to have the transcripts of conversations between the President’s House and the Army House on the operation.
March 2, 2012: The memo commission directed former ambassador to US, Husain Haqqani, to respond to the documentary evidences provided by Mansoor Ijaz against him within 10 days.
Simultaneously Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz claimed that the US administration had blocked the validation of his BlackBerry set that he had used for chatting with former ambassador Husain Haqqani.
March 3, 2012: ISPR and the Presidency denied Ijaz’s claims by iterating that there was no telephone conversation between President Asif Ali Zardari and the COAS Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani on the night between 1 and 2 May 2011.
March 7, 2012: The contempt of court hearing continued in which Defence and Cabinet Secretary, Nargis Sethi testified as a witness before the supreme Court of Pakistan.
Sethi acknowledged that two summaries were sent to Prime Minister by the Ministry of Law.
Supreme Court adjourned the contempt of court hearing till March 8, 2012.
March 8, 2012: The Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered Gilani to submit the written reply till March 19 and adjourned the contempt of court hearing till March 21.
Moreover, the Supreme Court in a hearing pertaining to National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) case, ordered Prime Minister Gilani to correspond with the Swiss authorities again.
March 12, 2012: Husain Haqqani requested memo commission not to appoint a forensic expert at government expense for verifying the data submitted by Mansoor Ijaz. Whilst responding to the accusations, Haqqani was of the view that Ijaz should fund the forensic investigation as it will be carried out on his personal request.
Moreover, he denied Ijaz’s claim that he had been in contact with him through BlackBerry messenger during the events of May 9 to 12 last year and on the issue related to the controversial memorandum.
March 13, 2012: Before departing for London, Zahid Bukhari, counsel to Haqqani, said that memogate is a plot hatched to destabilise the government. He further added that the controversy was aimed to halt the Senate elections.
Bukhari further reiterated that there was no truth behind the memo and hence no conclusion could be withdrawn.
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