Zardari in trouble as SC fumes over graft amnesty

Pakistan`s Supreme Court gave the government a last and final opportunity to implement its order to reopen graft cases.

Islamabad: Pakistan`s Supreme Court on Tuesday gave
the government a "last and final opportunity" to implement its
order to reopen graft cases against thousands of people,
including President Asif Ali Zardari, that were closed under
an amnesty that has been declared void.

A five-member special bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed
Khan Khosa said in its order that authorities were being given
the "last and final opportunity" to implement its order
scrapping the National Reconciliation Ordinance, a graft
amnesty that was issued by former military ruler Pervez
Musharraf in 2007.

If the authorities failed to act on the order, the court
would be forced to "take action against delinquent
authorities" and would pass orders "against anyone, no matter
how high an authority he might be", the bench said.

Today`s ruling is expected to increase pressure on Zardari
and the government, which is already grappling with a Supreme
Court-ordered inquiry into the alleged memo that had sought US
help to stave off a possible military coup in Pakistan after
the killing of Osama bin Laden in May.

Since the apex court struck down the NRO in December 2009,
it has been pressuring the Pakistan People`s Party-led
government to reopen graft cases, including money laundering
cases that were registered against Zardari in Switzerland.

The government has refused to act, saying Zardari enjoys
immunity from prosecution because of his position.

The bench also asked National Accountability Bureau
Chairman Fasih Bokhari and prosecutor general Karim Khan Agha
to appear before it in person and submit written statements on
the actions they intended to take.

The court observed in its order that after going through
the orders of the case, it showed that progress made by the
authorities was "next to nothing".

The bench further directed NAB officials to submit a
report on the recovery of properties of Ahmed Riaz Sheikh, a
former Federal Investigation Agency official who benefited
from the NRO.

The court directed Attorney General Anwar-ul-Haq and Law
Secretary Masood Chishti to be present at the next hearing to
explain what steps they had taken on a proposal sent to the
Prime Minister to seek his advice on reopening certain cases.

On November 24, a 17-member bench headed by Chief Justice
Iftikhar Chaudhry had dismissed the government`s petition
seeking a review of the apex court`s order striking down the

The court had then directed authorities to comply with its
decision in letter and spirit without any delay.