NRO implementation case: SC seeks reply from PM

Published Jun 27, 2012 05:54am

Raja-Pervaiz-Ashraf-APP-670
Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. - Photo by APP

ISLAMABAD:The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave the new prime minister two weeks to indicate whether he would ask Swiss authorities to reopen corruption cases against the president.

The apex court ordered the Attorney General to consult Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and inform the court regarding NRO implementation case on Wednesday.

A three-member bench headed by Justice Nasir ul Mulk was hearing the case. The judicial bench has asked the prime minister to submit his reply on the issue of corresponding with the Swiss authorities.

During the proceedings, Abdul Basit, the counsel for Adnan Khawaja and Ahmed Riaz Shaikh,  informed the court that his clients have been fired and paid the fine.

The court enquired, Wasim Sajjad, former AG’s counsel, if National accountability Bureau (NAB) has filed any reference against Malik Qayyum. Sajjad informed the court that former AG is under treatment in London, the details of which were verified from Pakistan’s High Commission.

The court’s order said that the previous prime minister was disqualified as he did not comply with the orders, hoping that Raja Pervaiz Ashraf will follow the orders.

The hearing was adjourned until July 12.

The move indicates that the judiciary is unwilling to end a showdown with the government that could force elections before February 2013, when the administration would become the first in Pakistan to complete a full five-year mandate.

The court on June 19 dismissed Yousuf Raza Gilani as prime minister after convicting him of contempt in April for refusing to reopen the multi-million-dollar cases.

The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) coalition elected Raja Pervez Ashraf as premier on Friday, after judges issued an arrest warrant for its first suggested replacement.

Five days later, Justice Nasir ul Mulk directed the attorney general to find out how the government intended to deal with the Swiss cases and report back on July 12.

“The new prime minister was elected last week and we trust that he will honour the direction given by this court,” Mulk said.

“In the meantime we direct the attorney general to obtain instructions from the prime minister and inform the court... on the next date of the hearing on July 12,” he said.

The allegations against Zardari date back to the 1990s, when he and his late wife, former premier Benazir Bhutto, are suspected of using Swiss bank accounts to launder $12 million allegedly paid in bribes by companies seeking customs inspection contracts.

The Swiss shelved the cases in 2008 when Zardari became president.

The government insists the president has full immunity.

But in 2009 the Supreme Court overturned a political amnesty that had frozen investigations into the president and other politicians, ordering that the cases be reopened.

Ashraf faces his own corruption allegations from his tenure as water and power minister, and many believe he will be forced out soon -- either by elections or the judiciary.


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