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Supreme Court to meet over PM arrest order

Published Jan 17, 2013 02:20am

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The Supreme Court of Pakistan Building.—AFP (File Photo)

ISLAMABAD: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) officials are to appear before the Supreme Court on Thursday over orders to arrest the prime minister and 15 other people on accusations of graft in 2010.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had ordered that all those accused of graft in power generation projects be arrested and for the NAB chairman to report to the court.

Coming as Tehrik-i-Minhajul Quran (TMQ) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri leads tens of thousands of protesters outside parliament to demand that the government resign, Tuesday's order sparked panic about an alleged judiciary-military plot to derail elections due by mid-May.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik threatened overnight to disperse the crowd unless leader Qadri ends the demonstration, the largest political rally in the capital for years, but President Asif Ali Zardari later intervened to stop authorities from using force against protesters.

“The NAB chairman is going to appear before the Supreme Court tomorrow,” the bureau's lawyer Aamir Abbas told AFP late on Wednesday.

Asked if any arrests were made so far, as ordered by the court, Abbas replied: “I am not aware about arrests.”

Commentators doubt that Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf will be detained imminently given that the case has already been running for years.

Lawyers say that even if he is arrested for questioning over the allegations, which date back to his time as water and power minister, he can remain in office unless and until he is convicted.