NRO Pakistan

The National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) was a controversial ordinance issued by the former President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf, on October 5, 2007. It granted amnesty to politicians, political workers and bureaucrats who were accused of corruption, embezzlement, money laundering, murder, and terrorism between January 1, 1986, and October 12, 1999, the time between two states of martial law in Pakistan. It was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on December 16, 2009, throwing the country into a political crisis.

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NRO Pakistan Features

The Supreme Court of Pakistan rulled on Wednesday 16th December, 2009 that the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) was null and void, calling it as ,unconstitutional. A 287 pages long detailed version of the NRO verdict is issued on Tuesday 19th January, 2010
Details of NRO verdict (PDF) – January 19, 2010: New A 287 pages long detailed version of the NRO verdict is issued on Tuesday 19th January, 2010.
October 5, 2007: The text of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) that was promulgated by former president Gen. (retd) Pervez Musharraf on October 5, 2007
December 16, 2009: According to the judgment, the NRO is contrary to the equality guaranteed by the 1973 Constitution and ordered Govt to reopen the Swiss cases
An ‘authentic’ list of the 252 people who had benefited from the controversial NRO. The bank accounts of many of the beneficiaries have been frozen and their properties seized.

NRO Pakistan Updates

  1. SC issues detailed verdict on NRO
  2. SC rules NRO ,null and void, unconstitutional
  3. Exit Control List (ECL) issued for 247 NRO beneficiaries
  4. Revival of NRO cases; PM Gilani defends President Zardari
  5. PPP won’t ask beneficiaries to resign
  6. Govt under pressure over NRO ministers

NRO Pakistan Latest News

Elections only way to change govt: Nisar 24 Jul 2014
  KARACHI,  Senior Sindh Minister for Education Nisar Ahmed Khuhro on Thursday said that the change in government is only possible through election and no other way under the constitution is possible for this purpose. Talking to media at Sindh Assembly Committee Room, Khuhro said if people had complaints with any government, they should reject […]
Pakistan govt. says `time-barred` Swiss cases against Zardari can’t be reopened 9 Nov 2013
Islamabad :  Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Muneer A Malik has said that Swiss cases against former president Asif Ali Zardari could not be reopened over being `time-barred`. The response came to an inquiry by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on whether the federal government had filed an appeal regarding the reopening of […]
UN chief urges legal drone use in Pakistan visit 13 Aug 2013
ISLAMABAD :  UN chief Ban Ki-moon waded into the controversy surrounding US drone strikes during a visit to Pakistan Tuesday, insisting they must operate within international law. The CIA has carried out hundreds of missile strikes on suspected militants in northwest Pakistan since 2004 and the campaign is a major thorn in relations with the […]
Pakistan SC hint at taking up Swiss letter case again spells more trouble for... 5 Jun 2013
Islamabad,The Supreme Court of Pakistan has hinted that it might again take up the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) implementation case to look into the outcome of case. The bombshell was dropped by a three-judge bench hearing illegal appointments of NRO beneficiaries when Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry asked the prosecutor general of National Accountability Bureau […]
NADRA launches revolutionized pension disbursement project 13 Apr 2013
Islamabad,  NADRA in collaboration with Old-age Benefits Institution (EOBI) has launched pension disbursement project on the directives of the President of Pakistan for all the pensioners enrolled with EOBI. Pension will be disbursed to EOBI pensioners holding Chip based Smart National Identity Card (SNIC) of NADRA at e-Sahulat points spread nationwide. Tariq Malik, Chairman NADRA […]
PTI, BNAP agree on seat-adjustment formula in Bahawalpur Division 26 Mar 2013
ISLAMABAD :  Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Tuesday reiterated his resolve of not to take oath from the incumbent President Asif Ali Zardari after voted as next prime minister of the country, saying that Asif Zardari was a creation of NRO which was unconstitutional and the constitution did not allow him to take […]
President Zardari administers oath to caretaker PM 25 Mar 2013
Islamabad  :  Justice (retd) Mir Hazar Khan Khoso who was nominated for the slot of care taker Prime Minister by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Sunday took oath as caretaker PM of Pakistan. President Asif Ali Zardari administered oath to him at an impressive ceremony at President House in Islamabad on Monday.He is […]
Gilani moves SC against his conviction, disqualification 15 Mar 2013
ISLAMABAD,  Former Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani filed a review petition in the Supreme Court on Friday against his conviction and disqualification in a contempt of court case. His review plea is likely to be heard next week by a seven-member larger bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. This official act has […]
SC hears Gilani’s review plea against his disqualification on March 6 28 Feb 2013
ISLAMABAD,  The Supreme Court will hear on March 06 the review petition of former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani against his conviction and disqualification in the contempt of court case. The review petition will be heard by a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. On April 26, 2012, a seven-member larger bench […]
Pakistan SC urged to review ”guilty” verdict on Gilani following Swiss stand ... 13 Feb 2013
Lahore,  Pakistani barrister, Aitzaz Ahsan, has asked the Supreme Court to review its decision to disqualify former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani for five years for not writing a letter to the Swiss authorities, saying it was “unjust”. The former counsel for Gilani further said he always asked the government to write the letter as it […]
Gilani questions dismissal in wake of Swiss decision not to reopen Zardari gr... 11 Feb 2013
Islamabad :  Former Pakistan premier Yousuf Raza Gilani has said that the decision of Swiss authorities not to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari has confirmed his position that the president has immunity within and outside the country. Gilani said in an interview with BBC Urdu, that he took a principled stance on […]
President Zardari soon to announce election date: Federal Law Minister 2 Feb 2013
Karachi :  Federal Law Minister Farooq H Naik on Saturday said that President Asif Ali Zardari will soon announce the date for holding general elections in the country. Addressing the legal fraternity at the Karachi Bar Association, he said that election commission of Pakistan will declare the schedule of next general elections after the president […]
Nishan-e-Imtiaz conferred on Governor Ishratul Ebad 25 Dec 2012
Karachi :   President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday conferred Nishan-i-Imtiaz upon Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan, Governor of Sindh for rendering meritorious Public services. Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan was appointed as the youngest Governor of Sindh province on December 27, 2002 and has become the longest serving governor in the country. A handout released on […]
Nearly three-quarters of Pakistan girls are not enrolled in school, reveals U... 13 Dec 2012
Islamabad :  Nearly three quarters of young Pakistani girls are not enrolled in primary school and the number of girls finishing five years in education has declined, according to a new United Nations and government report. The findings revealed the miserable state of education for millions in Pakistan, where the Taliban shot 15-year-old Malala Yousufzai […]

Pakistan Forum – Discuss latest news, issues related to NRO in Pakistan

In Depth

The ordinance aimed at “promoting national reconciliation, fostering mutual trust and confidence amongst holders of public office and removing the vestiges of political vendetta and victimization, and to make the election process more transparent”. The NRO states:

Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in sub-section(1), the Federal Government or a Provincial Government may, before the judgment is pronounced by a trial court, withdraw from the prosecution of any person including an absconding accused who is found to be falsely involved for political reasons or through political victimization in any case initiated between 1st day of January, 1986 to 12th day of October, 1999 and upon such withdrawal clause (a) and clause (b) of sub-section (1) shall apply.

It is widely believed that the act was a measure to allow the former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto to return to Pakistan without any legal consequences due to pending politically motivated corruption cases. However, Musharraf had said that it was necessary to build a reconciliatory theme in the political arena with the removal of such politically motivated cases. Musharraf stated in an interview that cases had been in the courts for a decade without any judgment being passed and were hampering political progress of virtually all political parties.

According to Transparency International, Pakistan is considered one of the most corrupt countries in the world. For the year 2009 it was ranked 42nd out of 180 and had a score of 2.4 on the Corruption Perceptions Index.

Furthermore some analyst believe ‘ US, the UK and Saudi Arabia underwrote a public amnesty which would enable popular politicians such as Benazir Bhutto to return to the country and counter the Taliban.’

Subsequent developments

The current Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, suspended this ordinance on October 12, 2007. But he was soon dismissed after Musharraf abrogated the constitution on November 3, 2007. The new Chief Justice, Abdul Hameed Dogar revived the NRO on February 27, 2008.

Release of list of NRO beneficiaries

In November 2009, Government of Pakistan released the list of the beneficiaries of the National Reconciliation Ordinance on the directives of Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani. The total list was 8041 beneficiaries most of which are bureaucrats, along with a handful of politicians. The cases also included some high ranking politicians such as the current President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani. The NRO was planned to be presented in the National Assembly but later due to the opposition of several major parties was not presented in the Assembly. According to State Minister for Law Afzal Sindhu in a news conference, the ordinance affected 8041 people, including 34 politicians and three ambassadors.

Dissolution of NRO by Supreme Court

On December 16, 2009, the Supreme Court of Pakistan declared NRO unconstitutional. A 17-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, declared the ordinance null and void. The Supreme Court also said that all the cases disposed of because of the controversial ordinance now stand revived as of Oct 5, 2007, position. The court opined that the NRO “seems to be against national interests thus it violates the provisions of the constitution”. Western diplomats subsequently expressed concern that Pakistan could face further instability due to this ruling, especially if Mr Zardari’s political opponents try to remove him from office. However, the verdict was widely welcomed in Pakistan.

After this verdict, Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau asked the Interior Ministry to bar 248 people, including Interior Minister of Pakistan Rehman Malik, from leaving the country. The following day an arrest warrant was issued against Malik. Defence Minister of Pakistan Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar was stopped from departing the country on a trip to China at Islamabad airport. Writing in the Pakistani newspaper Dawn, columnist Cyril Almeida stated “It’s chaos out there. Nobody knows what’s going on. Everyone is trying to work out the ramifications of the court order.”

The political crises deepened as the government was paralyzed and the country seemed to slide towards a coup with it being increasingly unclear whether the elected politicians, the judiciary or somebody else was running the country. The extent of the crises led to speculation whether the Army had any role to play in this. The situation was described as a ‘creeping coup’. Asma Jahangir chairperson of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan was quoted as saying ‘It’s complete (judicial) control now, the issue is whether the (democratic) system is going to pack up again.’ In an editorial in Dawn she criticized the judiciary and called the judgement a ‘witchhunt’. She also remarked ‘long-term effects of the judgment could also be counter-productive; perpetrators are often viewed as victims if justice is not applied in an even-handed manner and if administered in undue haste with overwhelming zeal.’

The scene is still seems to be vague. In an hearing of NRO Case, the supreme court was told that government was looking for a lawyer upon which it could trust to run the government’s side while chief justice of Pakistan has asked the government to adopt all necessary measures otherwise the Prime Minister of Pakistan has to appear and proceed the case himself.

NRO beneficiaries

Selected NRO beneficiaries include:

Asif Ali Zardari
Benazir Bhutto
Hakim Ali Zardari
Altaf Hussain
Nisar Khuhro
Rehman Malik
Hussain Haqqani
Aftab Ahmad Sherpao
Nawaz Khokhar
Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar
Jehangir Badar
Salman Farooqi
Siraj Shamsuddin
Syed Muhammad Ali Shah
Brigadier Imtiaz
Farooq Sattar
Saleem Shahzad
Babar Ghouri
Several Bureaucrats

Other than these there are hundreds of political as well as non-political persons who have benefited from this ordinance. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) presented a list of 248 politicians and bureaucrats to the government, whose cases were cleared by NAB due to NRO.

Full List of list of NRO beneficiaries

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