Pakistan’s Supreme Court will on Monday begin hearing petitions challenging the amnesty granted to President Asif Ali Zardari and several of his close aides under a controversial law that expired last month.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary has constituted a 17-judge larger bench headed by himself to hear the petitions. He has appointed three amicus curiae or legal experts – former Sindh High Court judge Shaiq Usmani, Supreme Court advocate Mian Allah Nawaz and former Attorney General M Sardar Khan – to assist the bench on the issue.
The National Reconciliation Ordinance, issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf two years ago, granted immunity in graft cases to over 8,000 people, including Zardari and his close aides Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar and Salman Faruqui, secretary general to the President.
The law expired on November 28 after the government failed to get it endorsed by parliament within a deadline set by the apex court. Two petitions challenging the NRO, filed by former federal minister Mubashar Hassan and retired bureaucrat Roedad Khan, are pending in the Supreme Court. They said in their petitions that the NRO went against the constitution and basic rights.