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Zardari graft cases: Pak govt submits to Swiss letter to SC

September 25, 2012 17:21 IST

Under immense pressure to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan government on Tuesday submitted before the Supreme Court the draft of a letter to be sent to Swiss authorities over the issue.

The apex court, hearing a contempt case against Premier Raja Pervez Ashraf over reopening of graft cases against Zardari, adjourned the matter for a day after the government sought time to make changes to the draft.

As the hearing began on Tuesday, Law Minister Farooq Naek presented to the court the draft of the letter to be sent to Swiss authorities for revoking a previous letter sent in 2007 to close the graft cases against Zardari.

After going through the draft letter, a five-judge bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa raised some technical objections.

The judges called Naek into their chambers during a break to discuss the contents of the letter.

When the bench re-assembled, it adjourned the hearing till Wednesday at Naek's request so that he could "address certain issues which have cropped up."

The bench objected to an incomplete reference in the draft letter to the 2007 letter that had called for closing of the cases against Zardari.

Justice Khosa said it would be better if the draft letter includes a complete reference to the letter written by former Attorney General Malik Qayyum in 2007.

At the last hearing on September 18, Prime Minister Ashraf had told the court that his government would send a letter to Swiss authorities to revoke the official letter sent in 2007 for closing the graft cases.

It would be up to the Swiss authorities to decide whether the cases against Zardari should be reopened, he had said.

The court had then instructed the Law Minister to present the draft letter by today.

The court had further said it wanted proof that the Premier had formally instructed the Law Minister to take up the matter with the Swiss authorities.

During today's hearing, the Law Minister presented a letter from the Premier that authorised Naek to write to the Swiss authorities in accordance with the apex court's directives.

Ashraf is the second Premier to appear in the Supreme Court to face a contempt charge for refusing to revive the cases against Zardari.

His predecessor, Yousuf Raza Gilani, was convicted of contempt and disqualified in June.

The Supreme Court has been pressuring the government to revive the cases against the President since December 2009, when it struck down the graft amnesty issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf that benefited Zardari and over 8,000 others.

The government has refused to act, saying the President enjoys immunity in Pakistan and abroad.

The ruling PPP and some legal experts have accused the apex court of acting in a biased manner by going after only Zardari while ignoring the other beneficiaries of the graft amnesty.

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