Pak PM Raja Pervez Ashraf says revoked letter closing graft cases against Asif Ali Zardari
In a U-turn, Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf today told the Supreme Court that his government would revoke a letter to Swiss authorities asking for the closure of graft probe against President Asif Ali Zardari, a move that could pave way for reopening of the cases against him.
The apex court has postponed the hearing to September 25 and also exempted the Prime Minister from future hearing.
Appearing before a five-judge bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa to face a contempt charge for failing to reopen the cases against the President, Ashraf said he had instructed Law Minister Farooq Naek to revoke the letter that was written by former Attorney General Malik Qayyum in late 2007.
With the revocation of the letter written during the regime of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, it will be up to the Swiss authorities to decide whether the cases against Zardari should be reopened, legal experts said.
Pakistan government appears to have backed down in duel with the judiciary over President's graft cases as earlier it had refused to to act, saying the President enjoys immunity in Pakistan and abroad.
The case had cost former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani his job in June.
The Supreme Court has been pressuring the government to revive the cases against the President since December 2009, when it struck down a graft amnesty issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf that benefited Zardari and over 8,000 others.
In late 2007, Qayyum had asked Swiss authorities to close the graft cases against Zardari and his slain wife, former premier Benazir Bhutto, after Musharraf issued the National Reconciliation Ordinance, the graft amnesty.
The amnesty was part of a secret deal between Musharraf and Bhutto that facilitated the latter's return to Pakistan from self-imposed exile.
Ashraf told the bench that he would abide by his commitment to find a solution to the issue of the graft cases. After reviewing all aspects of the matter, Prime Minister said he had decided to revoke the letter written by the former Attorney General and asked the Law Minister to take necessary steps.
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