Millennium Post

PAK SC warns PM of resuming contempt case over Swiss letter

Pakistan Supreme Court on Wednesday warned it would resume contempt proceedings against Premier Raja Pervez Ashraf if the government does not finalise by 5 October a letter to be sent to Swiss authorities for reopening graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

The apex court had sought changes in a draft letter that was presented on Tuesday by Law Minister Farooq Naek.

When the hearing resumed on Wednesday, a five-judge bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa objected to the revised draft presented by Naek for not mentioning the restoration of the cases against Zardari.

Naek asked the judges to conduct the hearing in their chambers as he wished to raise certain ‘sensitive issues’ that could not be discussed in an open courtroom.

The judges initially refused, but later agreed to hear Naek in their chambers after conferring among themselves.

The Law Minister was called to the chambers for consultations behind closed doors. Once the hearing resumed, Naek sought time from the court till 5 October to resolve all issues raised by the judges.

The bench said if the government does not comply with the apex court’s order to finalise the letter to be sent to the Swiss authorities by 5 October, the court will be compelled to resume the contempt of court proceedings against Ashraf.

The judges said the court was giving the government a final opportunity to draft the letter.

During his appearance in court on 18 September, Ashraf said the government would send a letter to Swiss authorities to revoke another official communication sent in 2007 to close the graft cases against Zardari.

The Premier said it would be up to the Swiss authorities to decide whether the cases against Zardari should be revived.

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

The government has refused to act so far, saying the president enjoys immunity in Pakistan and abroad. Ashraf is the second premier to appear in the Supreme Court to face a contempt charge.


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