Cabinet passes a bill that exempts certain high officials from being brought to court on contempt charges

The federal cabinet on Wednesday approved the draft of the Contempt of Court Bill 2012, which will exempt the president, prime minister, governors and chief ministers from contempt of court proceedings. The cabinet also approved the bill to allow dual nationals to participate in the next general elections; the bill will also protect current lawmakers with dual nationality from disqualification.

The decision of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) to reopen Nato supply routes was also endorsed by the cabinet in its session here at the PM Secretariat with Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf in the chair.

After the cabinet meeting, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira apprised the media about the cabinet decision on Nato supplies, which he said was taken in the light of the future priorities of Pakistan’s foreign policy and of parliament’s decisions. He said Pakistan had made it clear to the United States that it would not tolerate any repetition of incidents like the Salala check post attack.

He stated that Pakistan was not happy over blocking the supplies, as it was negatively affecting relations with the US and other Nato countries, adding that it was unwise to offend the world community.

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, DG Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Maj Gen Zahreerul Islam and other senior officials were also present in the meeting.

Agencies add: Kaira said the reopening of the supply routes to the Nato forces in Afghanistan was not a question of victory or defeat but an issue of Pakistan’s principled stance on the Salala attack — a position that had now been accepted by the United States. “Our demand was that Nato should accept their mistake and should tender an apology which has been accepted,” he said.

The minister said that Pakistan was helping Afghanistan in the capacity building of its army and it is hoped that after the end of this deadlock, the security situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan will improve.

Kaira said there is no doubt that Pakistan’s roads were damaged in the shipment of Nato supplies in Afghanistan but the government decided for the sake of national honour that they will not charge any tax in this regard.

To a question, he said it was part of the PPP manifesto to provide the right of vote and election to overseas Pakistanis. He said that Pakistan has agreements with 16 countries on dual nationality and they do not bar Pakistani nationals from becoming members of their parliaments.

About the Contempt of Court Bill 2012, he said the PPP and its allied parties fully believe that stability of national institutions was vital to make democracy strong in the country. He said the bill was not aimed to put any restrictions on the superior judiciary, but to give right of appeal against conviction.

Kaira said that article 248 (1) says, “The president, a governor, the prime minister, a federal minister, a minister of state, the chief minister and a provincial minister shall not be answerable to any court for the exercise of powers and performance of functions of their respective offices or for any act done or purported to be done in the exercise of those powers and performance of those functions.”

Kaira said if some article of the constitution gives a right to someone, nobody has a right to withdraw it and the proposed bill only clarifies that position.Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari summoned the Senate session on July 9 at 5:30pm and the National Assembly session on July 6 (tomorrow) at 11:00amThe sessions have been summoned at the Parliament House on the advice of the prime minister.

The News

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