No decision to approach Swiss authorities on Zardari: Pak govt



No decision to approach Swiss authorities on Zardari: Pak govt Islamabad: Setting the stage for a fresh slugfest with an assertive Supreme Court, Pakistan government on Tuesday asked it to review its order for reopening graft cases against the President and said the cabinet has not taken any decision to write to Swiss authorities over the issue.

The move came a day before the expiry of a deadline set by the Supreme Court for reviving graft charges against President Asif Ali Zardari.

The government conveyed its position to the court through a reply submitted by Attorney General Irfan Qadir.

The government asked the court to review its order directing Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to reopen the corruption cases in Switzerland.

A five-judge bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa will resume hearing the case tomorrow and observers said the government's response could increase tensions between the judiciary and the government.

The government's response said the Prime Minister follows the decisions of the cabinet, which has so far not advised him to write a letter to the Swiss authorities to revive the graft cases against the President.

The government further said that the option of initiating contempt of court proceedings against the Prime Minister for not acting on the apex court's order had ended with the passage of the new Contempt of Court Act.

The new law protects top government functionaries from contempt for their executive actions.

On July 12, the apex court had directed Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to comply with its order to revive the corruption cases against Zardari by July 25.

It had warned that if the premier failed to act on its directive, the court "may initiate any appropriate action under the Constitution and the law".

The same case had cost Ashraf's predecessor, Yousuf Raza Gilani, his job.

Gilani was convicted of contempt in April after he refused to act on the apex court's orders to reopen the graft cases.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry subsequently disqualified Gilani for five years.

The court has been pressuring the government to act against the President since December 2009, when it annulled a graft amnesty issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf that benefited Zardari and over 8,000 others.

The ruling Pakistan People's Party and some legal experts have accused the apex court of bias for focussing only on the cases against Zardari.

The government has maintained that it cannot ask the Swiss authorities to act against the President as he enjoys immunity within Pakistan and abroad.

PTI