Geneva approached to reopen Zardari’s graft caseMarch 31st, 2010 - 6:23 pm ICT by IANS
Islamabad, March 31 (IANS) The Swiss authorities have been approached to reopen a money laundering case against Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari involving $60 million, the Supreme Court was informed Wednesday.
National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman Naveed Ahsan told the court it had set in motion the process for reopening the case and had written to Swiss officials on this, Geo News reported.
Zardari’s is among the 158 cases reopened after the Supreme Court struck down in December last an amnesty against graft which then president Pervez Musharraf had promulgated in October 2007.
The amnesty, in the form of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), was promulgated primarily to enable former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and her husband Zardari, who faced a slew of corruption cases, to return home from self-imposed exile.
Bhutto was assassinated in a gun and bomb attack as she left a political rally in the adjacent garrison town of Rawalpindi December 27, 2007.
A host of other politicians, retired army officers and bureaucrats also benefited from the NRO.
In August 2008, Swiss judicial authorities, acting on the request of the Pakistani government, closed the money-laundering case against Zardari and released $60 million frozen in Swiss accounts.
The Pakistani government had cited the NRO as the reason for seeking closure of the case.
Zardari and his aides have been blowing hot and cold ever since the Supreme Court struck down the NRO. While he says he is ready to face the courts, his aides insist he enjoys presidential immunity, at least as long as he is in office.
At Wednesday’s hearing, the seven-member Supreme Court bench also demanded the return of millions of dollars plundered by leaders and bureaucrats, action against former attorney general Malik Qayyum and an increase in the number of anti-graft courts to speedily resolve cases.
The NAB’s Ahsan told the court that the law secretary had been contacted for an opinion on the case against Qayyum, who had requested the closure of the case against Zardari.
The Supreme Court contends that only the NAB had the power to do so.
Among those who benefited from the NRO are Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar, politicians Altaf Hussain and Fazl-ur-Rehman, ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani and former prime minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali. The cases against them are in the process of being reopened.
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Tags: asif ali zardari, benazir bhutto, bomb attack, corruption cases, former attorney general, former prime minister, garrison town, graft case, judicial authorities, law secretary, national accountability bureau, national reconciliation, pervez musharraf, political rally, president pervez musharraf, presidential immunity, supreme court bench, swiss accounts, swiss authorities, swiss officials