Pak not to approach Swiss authorities to reopen cases against Zardari



Islamabad: Pakistan government has decided not to approach Swiss authorities to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari in line with a Supreme Court ruling, setting the stage for a potential confrontation between the executive and the judiciary next week.

The decision not to revive the corruption cases against Zardari in Switzerland was taken during a dinner meeting of the federal cabinet hosted by the President last night, sources said.

Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim, who attended the meeting, told reporters in Lahore on Saturday that the government has made a unanimous decision that no letter will be written to Swiss authorities to revive the cases against Zardari.

Yesterday's meeting, which was chaired by Zardari and also attended by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, reviewed important cases before the superior judiciary and the political situation.

It concluded that there was no need to reopen the cases against Zardari as he enjoyed immunity under the constitution, sources said.

However, the Supreme Court has summoned Law Minister Babar Awan to appear before it on May 25 and explain why the government is not implementing its verdict annulling the National Reconciliation Ordinance, a graft amnesty that benefited Zardari and over 8,000 others.

Since the apex court struck down the NRO last year, it has been pressing the government to take action against Zardari and his aides who benefited from the controversial amnesty issued by former President Pervez Musharraf.

Observers believe the stage is being set for a confrontation between Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and Zardari, who held off for over a year on the issue of restoring the Chief Justice and other judges of the apex court who were sacked during the 2007 emergency.

During last night's meeting, the leaders of the ruling Pakistan People's party also decided that Swiss authorities could be approached to reopen the cases against Zardari only if Parliament withdraws the immunity available to the President, sources said.

Commerce Minister Fahim also told reporters that the government respects the judiciary's verdicts though there is no institution above the Parliament.

"There should not be any confrontation (between institutions) and we should move forward for the betterment of the country and the strengthening of democracy," he said.

PTI