Govt won't ask Switzerland to reopen cases against Zardari: PPP



Islamabad: Pakistan's ruling PPP has said the government does not intend to ask Switzerland to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari as the party reposed "complete confidence" in his leadership, amid efforts by the Supreme Court to push authorities to act on corruption charges against him.

The PPP's Central Executive Committee, during a meeting held late last night at Naudero in Sindh province, reposed complete confidence in Zardari's leadership and resolved that the party would resist the trial of its leaders, including slain former premier Benazir Bhutto and her mother Nusrat Bhutto, the wife of late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

Even before the meeting of the central executive committee, PPP spokesperson Fauzia Wahab told reporters in Sukkur that the government had no intention of making a request to Swiss authorities to reopen cases against Zardari.

Wahab said no one should expect the government to send letters to Switzerland or any other country accusing the president of committing a crime.

The president enjoyed "clear immunity" under international law and the Pakistani Constitution, she said.

"We are not going to write to any foreign government," she said, adding international practice and conventions did not permit such a move.

The party's top leadership met on the eve of the death anniversary of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto against the backdrop of the Supreme Court's efforts to push the PPP-led government to reopen graft cases against Zardari in Switzerland.

The apex court has given the government time till April 5 to revive the cases.

After the meeting of the central executive committee, Wahab told the media there was strong resentment among party leaders over the issue of the Swiss cases.

She said PPP leaders and workers would not permit the trial of their leaders at any cost.

"There is talk of the trial of Begum Nusrat Bhutto and Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and everyone has recorded their objection to it. They have questioned why so much attention is being devoted to the Swiss cases because these cases were basically against Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto," she said. Benazir Bhutto was the "principal accused and President Asif Ali Zardari was the co-accused," Wahab said.

"The Swiss cases were ended on merit as they had no basis. They went on for 10 years and no government could prove the charges," she said.

The Supreme Court directed the government to take steps to reopen the cases in Switzerland after striking down the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), a graft amnesty issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

Zardari and several of his close aides were among over 8,000 people who benefited from the NRO.

The meeting of the PPP Central Executive Committee, which was chaired by Zardari, adopted a resolution that said Zardari is the symbol of the federation.

"We pay tribute to his leadership qualities and sagacity," it said.

The meeting adopted another resolution that expressed the party's determination not to allow the holding of a trial of Benazir Bhutto or Nusrat Bhutto.

Yet another resolution expressed the PPP's determination not to allow steps against the restoration of democracy and against its leaders at any cost.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Senator Raza Rabbani, who headed a committee that finalised a landmark constitutional reforms package, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, PPP general secretary Jehangir Badar and Punjab Governor Salman Taseer attended the meeting of the central executive committee.

PTI