‘Only government can revive Swiss corruption case against Zardari’February 23rd, 2010 - 6:18 pm ICT by IANS
Islamabad, Feb 23 (IANS) A tussle seems to be brewing within the Pakistani establishment with the law ministry saying it alone could reopen a Swiss money laundering case against President Asif Ali Zardari and not anti-corruption watchdog National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Responding to a letter from NAB chairman Naveed Ahsan on the manner in which the case could be reopened, the law ministry has said only the government had the authority to write to the Swiss government on this.
Law ministry sources told Online news agency that the ministry, in its letter, says that the NAB is not recognised by the Swiss government. In the past as well, all correspondence with the Swiss government was by the government.
The attorney general himself had moved the case in a Swiss court and had taken it back after then president Pervez Musharraf had promulgated an amnesty against graft, the letter says.
The NAB chief would on Wednesday present a report to the Supreme Court based on the law ministry’s response and seek its guidance on proceeding further, sources said.
Musharraf had promulgated the amnesty, in the form of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), primarily to enable slain prime minister Benazir Bhutto and her husband Zardari, who faced a slew of corruption cases, return home from self-imposed exile. Some 250 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, had closed the money-laundering case against Zardari and released $60 million frozen in Swiss accounts.
The Pakistani Supreme Court had in December 2009 termed the NRO unconstitutional and ordered the reopening of all the cases that had been closed after its promulgation.
Zardari and his aides have been blowing hot and cold on the issue since then, with the president saying he was prepared to face the courts. His aides, however, insist he enjoys presidential immunity, at least as long as he is in office.
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Tags: ahsan, army officers, asif ali zardari, benazir bhutto, corruption case, corruption cases, judicial authorities, law ministry, ministry sources, nab, national accountability bureau, national reconciliation, naveed, nro, pakistani government, pervez musharraf, president pervez musharraf, swiss accounts, swiss court, swiss government