Reopen graft cases against President Zardari: Pak SC

Last Updated: Friday, March 12, 2010 - 21:04

Islamabad: Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Friday
directed the country`s anti-corruption watchddog to reopen
graft cases against Asif Ali Zardari and 8,000 others that
were quashed under the controversial National Reconciliation
Ordinance, a move likely to further weaken his hold on the
presidency.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Javed Iqbal
directed the National Accountability of Bureau to implement
its verdict to reopen cases that were quashed under the
National Reconciliation Ordinance, promulgated by former
military ruler Pervez Musharraf in 2007.
The bench also directed the bureau to protect all
records related to NRO cases.

The bench also expressed its dissatisfaction at a
report submitted by NAB on the reopening of cases.

NAB was directed by the judges to submit a report
regarding the appointment of prosecutors for these cases.

Justice Iqbal remarked that whatever was decided by
the apex court "must be implemented in letter and spirit".

He said all institutions are bound to implement the
apex court`s orders under constitutional provisions.
Noting that certain media reports had claimed that
efforts were being made to tamper with the records of
NRO-related cases, damage evidence and replace certain
records. He directed authorities to protect these
records.

NAB’s acting chairman Irfan Nadeem told the bench that
his organisation had sought guidance from the law ministry on
the immunity enjoyed by the President.

The ministry had, in turn, asked the Attorney General
for guidance, Nadeem said.

The bench observed that the apex court had the
authority to interpret constitutional provisions and if there
was immunity for anyone, the court must be informed in writing
about those who enjoyed such immunity.

Justice Iqbal also questioned when this game of "hide
and seek" would end.

The bench adjourned the matter for two weeks on the
request of the NAB official, who sought time for filing a
detailed report.

The Supreme Court annulled the NRO, which was
promulgated by the former military ruler as part of a secret
understanding with the Pakistan People’s Party.

Over 8,000 people, including Zardari and several of
his close aides, benefited from the graft amnesty.

After striking down the NRO, the apex court directed
the PPP-led government to reopen all cases quashed under the
amnesty, including money laundering cases registered against
Zardari in Switzerland that were closed in 2008.

On February 19, a three-judge bench headed by Chief
Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry had given the NAB a "last chance" to
implement its directions regarding the reopening of the cases.

However, Zardari`s aides have said he enjoys immunity
from prosecution by virtue of being President.

PTI



First Published: Friday, March 12, 2010 - 21:04

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