I often hear and read comments by lay-persons, saying that NRO was “signed” by Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. Now, here’s where the folly lies! NRO is an abbreviated form of National Reconciliation Ordinance 2007, which is a piece of legislation. Legislation, as we all know, is a forte of the parliament in a parliamentary democracy like Pakistan. Pakistan, like many other nation satates, follows West Minster style of parliamentary system (UK, India, Australia, Canada to name few of the parliaments that follow West Minster). There is a corresponding system of government, commonly called Jeffersonian Parliaments, commonly called Presidential form of government (mainly USA). In a West Minster style parliamentary system like the one followed by Pakistan, President is the ceremonial head of the state, who has limited role in legislation.
According to the powers conferred upon the president, by the Constitution of Pakistan 1973, the President can issue an Ordinance as a piece of legislation when the Parliament is not sitting. Exercising the same power, General (now retired) Pervaiz Musharraf issued an ordinance called National Reconciliation Ordinance 2007, commonly known as NRO. Since it was an Ordinance, it was signed by the President of Pakistan, not by any political party sitting outside the government at that point in time. It is however, debatable, how this ordinance came into being. Without getting into the details of its origin for the time being, we’d go to what it says. The readers can refer to the original text of the NRO wherever s/he deems necessary, which I’ve already put on one of my blogs under the link: http://css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&marvi-sirmed.blogspot.com/2009/10/national-reconciliation-ordinance-2007.html
The Ordinance has seven distinct Sections. Section I deals with the title of the Ordinance as is the usual practice of drafting a legislation.
Section II deals with an amendment in the Criminal Procedures Code (CrPC), which has been there since 1898. This Section of NRO amends section 494 of the CrPC, which empowered only the Prosecutor Generals to withdraw pending Criminal cases. After the amendment introduced by NRO, the Boards at Federal and Provincial Levels could be constituted to review the cases pending from 1st January 1986 to 12 October 1999. These Boards will see if the accused persons in these cases have been falsely involved in these cases on politically motivated reasons. In this case, the Review Boards thus created, can recommend withdrawal of cases to the respected governments.