Pak SC gives PM till July 25 to move on Zardari cases

Fresh Crisis: Warns of action if premier fails to write to Swiss authorities to re-open graft cases

Written by Press Trust Of India | Islamabad | Published: July 13, 2012 12:27 am

Rezaul H Laskar

Pakistan’s Supreme Court Thursday set July 25 deadline for Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to approach Swiss authorities to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari,triggering a fresh political crisis over the issue which cost his predecessor,Yousuf Raza Gilani,his job.

Gilani was convicted of contempt in April and disqualified Gilani for five years last month after he refused to act on the apex court’s orders to reopen the graft cases.

A five-judge bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa directed Ashraf to write to the Swiss authorities without any further consultations on the matter with legal experts or within the government.

The apex court had earlier directed the Premier to inform it whether he would contact the Swiss authorities about the graft cases.

The bench said it expected the Premier to write to the Swiss authorities and furnish a report on complying with the court’s order at the next hearing on July 25.

If the PM fails to do so,the court will take action under the Constitution against him,the bench warned.

The bench rejected Ashraf’s response,submitted through Attorney General Irfan Qadir,that the issue of the graft cases was discussed by the Cabinet at a meeting Wednesday and the government wanted more time so that the Law Minister and Law Secretary,who had recently assumed office,could study the matter.

The ruling came just hours after President Zardari signed into law the Contempt of Court Bill,2012,which was passed by the National Assembly two days ago,aimed at protecting top government leaders from contempt of court proceedings.

The new law is intended to save Ashraf from possible disqualification by the court for refusing to reopen the cases related to alleged laundering of $60 million during ex-premier Benazir Bhutto’s second term in the 1990s.

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