Pakistan Supreme Court rejects plea to adjourn crucial hearing

October 11th, 2010 - 8:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Pervez Musharraf By Awais Saleem
Islamabad, Oct 11 (IANS) In a decision that has considerable political bearing in Pakistan, the country’s Supreme Court Monday rejected the government’s plea to adjourn the hearing on a petition seeking review of the national reconciliation ordinance (NRO) under which President Asif Ali Zardari along with others were granted amnesty in corruption cases.

The government had submitted an application in the apex court last Saturday seeking more time to appoint a new counsel in the case saying that the present counsel, Kamal Azfar, had been appointed as an adviser to the prime minister and a new lawyer needed to be appointed in the case.

Chief Justice Iftukhar Muhammad Chaudhary rejected the plea and ordered withdrawal of the government notification regarding appointment of Kamal Azfar as adviser.

“The hearing of the NRO review petition will be held Oct 13 as per schedule,” the chief justice said.

The government had appointed Kamal Azfar, a former Sindh governor and the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) loyalist, as adviser to Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani on disaster management. The move was seen by many as a ploy to delay the proceedings.

Meanwhile, the government has reportedly decided to file another appeal against Monday’s decision.

The NRO was introduced by former President Pervez Musharraf that paved the way for the return of exiled leader Banazir Bhutto and her husband Asif Ali Zardari, who has since been elected as the country’s president.

The corruption cases against the politicians were closed under NRO. However, the apex court struck down the ordinance in December, 2009 and decided to re-open all such cases. The court also ordered to re-open the cases against Zardari in Swiss courts.

The Swiss cases pertain to accusations against Zardari of amassing ill-gotten wealth through several off-shore companies and depositing it in Swiss bank accounts. The PPP-led central government has filed a review petition in the apex court against the NRO case verdict and the hearing is scheduled to be held Oct 13.

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