Pakistan issues national reconciliation ordinance

Islamabad, Oct 6, IRNA , President General Pervez Musharraf on Friday promulgated ‘the National Reconciliation Ordinance’ aimed at promoting national reconciliation, foster mutual trust and confidence among holders of public office and to remove the vestiges of national vendetta and victimization.

The ordinance is issued to drop corruption cases against the exiled Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, analysts say.

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Ms Bhutto has twice been prime minister of Pakistan, from 1988 to 1990, and from 1993 to 1996.

She plans to return to Pakistan from self-exile on 18 October to fight general elections due by mid-January.

She left Pakistan before Gen Musharraf took power in 1999.

The agreement canceled corruption charges against Benazir Bhutto and other politicians in the name of national reconciliation.

Ms Bhutto yesterday dropped her threat to join the rest of the opposition in a parliamentary walk-out aimed at discrediting Saturday’s presidential poll.

The opposition parties rejected the reconciliation ordinance and said that the law has been framed to facilitate only Benazir Bhutto.

They had challenged Gen Musharraf’s candidacy in the Supreme Court for a second time, and the court ruled on Friday that the elections can take place as per schedule on Saturday.

The ordinance has paved the way for Ms Bhutto to return to Pakistan for forthcoming general elections.

This ordinance is aimed at making the election process more transparent, according to the text of the ordinance.

The ordinance has empowered Federal or Provincial Governments to withdraw cases before judgment is pronounced by a trial court against any person including an absconding accused who is found to be falsely involved for political reasons in any case initiated between first of January 1986 and 12th of October 1999.

For this purpose review boards would be constituted to review the entire record of the case and furnish recommendations as to their withdrawal or otherwise.

The Federal Board would be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court and include Attorney-General and Federal Law Secretary.

The Provincial Boards would be headed by a retired judge of the high court and Advocate-General or Prosecutor-General and Provincial Law Secretaries would be their members.

The new law says that cases initiated against holders of public offices prior to 12th of October 1999 by the National Accountability Bureau inside or outside Pakistan stand withdrawn and terminated with immediate effect. Such holders of public office shall also not be liable to any action in future as well under the ordinance for acts having been done in good faith before the said date.