'Swiss authorities yet to respond to Pak govt's letter'
Islamabad: Swiss authorities are yet to respond to the Pakistan government's letter seeking the reopening of graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari, Law Minister Farooq H Naek has said.
No case exists against the President in Switzerland and one case, in which Zardari was accused of receiving kickbacks from a government contract awarded to Swiss companies SGS and Cotecna for customs inspection of goods being imported into Pakistan, was only at the investigation stage, Naek said.
The government had sent the letter to Swiss authorities last month in line with an order from the Supreme Court.
However, the letter made it clear that the graft cases can be revived with the condition that the President enjoys immunity under the Constitution and Pakistani and international laws.
After an investigation by a judge, the Swiss Attorney General had announced in August 2008 that no money laundering case was established against Zardari, Naek was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper today.
The Swiss Attorney General had further said that if anyone had objection to his ruling, he could file an appeal within 10 days, Naek said.
At that time, the Swiss Attorney General had also mentioned the letter sent in 2008 by Pakistan's former Attorney General Malik Qayyum seeking closure of the investigation after the promulgation of the National Reconciliation Ordinance.
The NRO was a graft amnesty issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf that benefited Zardari and over 8,000 others. The NRO was part of a secret deal between Musharraf and slain former premier Benazir Bhutto.
The Supreme Court struck down the NRO in December 2009, saying it violated the Constitution. Since then, it had been pressuring the Pakistan People?s Party-led government to revive the graft cases against Zardari. The government refused to act for months before Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf agreed to implement the apex court?s orders in November after he was charged with contempt.
Ashraf's predecessor, Yousuf Raza Gilani, was convicted of contempt and disqualified in June for refusing to reopen the cases.
Naek pointed out that the National Accountability Bureau, Pakistan's main anti-corruption agency, had cleared Zardari in two graft cases he was facing in the country because there was no evidence against him.
He said that no cases could be reopened against the President now.