‘Musharaf withdrew Swiss `kickback` cases against Zardari’

Last Updated: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - 23:22

Islamabad: Several cases registered in
Switzerland against President Asif Ali Zardari for allegedly
using Swiss bank accounts to stash away millions of dollars in
kickbacks were withdrawn on the orders of former Pak military
ruler Pervez Musharraf, a former legal official said on Tuesday.

Former Attorney General Malik Qayyum made the remarks
while appearing before a 17-judge bench of the Supreme Court
headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry that is hearing
challenges to the immunity granted to Zardari and over 8,000
others in graft cases.
Qayyum said Zardari submitted an appeal in Sindh High
Court under the National Reconciliation Ordinance, a law
issued by Musharraf, to repeal all corruption cases against
him in February last year.

The court then abolished these cases.

Acting on the directives of then President Musharraf,
Qayyum wrote a letter to the Swiss courts to withdraw cases
against Zardari.

Qayyum said he had also travelled to Switzerland to
apprise courts there about the NRO.

The apex court had summoned Qayyum to explain why he
wrote to Swiss authorities to withdraw the cases Zardari.

Acting Attorney General Shah Khawar too was asked to
name the individual who authorised the withdrawal of the cases
in Swiss courts.

Chief Justice Chaudhry said the individual found
responsible for withdrawing the cases will be sent to jail or
asked to repay to the government the Rs 2 billion spent on
pursuing the cases in Switzerland.

The Acting Attorney General also presented to the
apex court the National Accountability Bureau’s report on the
Swiss bank accounts allegedly operated by Zardari and others.
According to the report, Zardari has accounts in seven
banks with total deposits of Rs 59 million. The list includes
the names of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto and her
mother Nusrat Bhutto.

In a related development, government lawyer Kamal
Azfar informed the apex court that he wished to withdraw his
controversial remarks that the Central Intelligence Agency and
the General Headquarters of the Pakistan Army posed a threat
to the democratic government.

He had created a flutter with his remarks during
yesterday’s hearing of the case. During today’s proceedings,
Azfar said the Taliban represented the actual threat to
Pakistan’s democracy.

The government has already said it will not defend
the National Reconciliation Ordinance, the law that granted
immunity to over 8,000 people accused of corruption, including
Zardari.

Legal experts believe the beleaguered President could
face more problems if the apex court declares the NRO
unconstitutional and challenges Zardari’s eligibility for the
post of President.

Zardari has dismissed the corruption charges against
him. During today’s hearing, Acting Attorney General Khawar
indicated that the apex court should ensure that the case does
not lead to any political upheaval.

The bench then observed that stemming crimes does not
pave the way for upheaval.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - 23:22

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