Zardari grants pardon to Malik; remits jail terms
Pak Prez Zardari has granted a pardon to Interior Minister Rehman Malik in graft cases.
Islamabad/Lahore: President Asif Ali
Zardari on Tuesday granted a pardon and remitted two prison terms given to Interior Minister Rehman Malik hours after a
Pakistani court dismissed the minister`s appeal against his
conviction in two corruption cases.
Using his constitutional powers, Zardari remitted the
prison terms handed down to Malik, presidential spokesman
Farhatullah Babar said.
The pardon was granted under Article 45 of the
constitution on the advice of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza
Gilani which "was tendered late on Monday night", Babar said.
Article 45 of the constitution empowers the President
to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by a court.
The development occurred late in the night.
Malik, a close confidant of the President, is out of
the country and there were earlier unconfirmed reports that he
might not return to Pakistan till the matter of the prison
sentence was settled.
Earlier in the day, a two-judge bench of the Lahore
High Court headed by Chief Justice Khwaja Muhammad Sharif
dismissed Malik`s plea against his conviction by an
anti-corruption court and restored the two three-year prison
terms awarded to him.
The court`s ruling put immense pressure on Malik to
resign before filing an appeal in the Supreme Court against
the Lahore High Court`s decision.
Malik, who was sentenced by anti-corruption court in
absentia in 2004, has maintained that he was victimized due to political reasons during his absence from Pakistan under a law specially crafted by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf
for victimizing political opponents.
After the Supreme Court scrapped the controversial
National Reconciliation Ordinance, a graft amnesty that
benefited Zardari and Malik, last year, the two cases against
the Interior Minister, in which he was given the prison terms,
were reopened by the anti-corruption court.
Malik was accused of receiving two luxury cars as
graft and taking away 20 tolas of gold and Rs 700,000 from the
house of a suspect during a raid by the Federal Investigation
Agency in the mid-1990s.
He was then an assistant director of the FIA.
The Interior Minister then filed a petition in the
Lahore High Court against the anti-corruption court`s
sentence. Following this, the High Court suspended the ruling
of the anti-corruption court and granted Malik bail.
During today`s hearing, Malik`s counsel argued that no
notice was sent to his client to appear before the court.
The verdict given in his absence is "illegal" and the
court should "halt the punishment orders" against Malik, the
Legal experts were of the view that Malik could be
arrested following the High Court`s order.
"The minister is in the dock as even if he moves the
Supreme Court against the decision of the Lahore High Court,
he will first have to resign from office," said advocate