News / Asia

Pakistani PM Agrees to Court Demand in Corruption Case

Pakistan's Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf waves upon arriving at the Supreme Court for a hearing where he will submit his reply regarding the court's order to reopen an old corruption case against the country's president, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Sept.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf waves upon arriving at the Supreme Court for a hearing where he will submit his reply regarding the court's order to reopen an old corruption case against the country's president, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Sept.
Ayaz Gul
Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf says his government will comply with a longstanding Supreme Court demand to ask Swiss authorities to reopen a graft case against President Asif Ali Zardari. Observers say the move is likely to ease tensions between the Pakistani government and the judiciary.
 
For nearly three years, the Supreme Court has been demanding that the Pakistani government write to Swiss authorities to request they reopen a graft case against President Zardari.
 
But the coalition government headed by Zardari’s Pakistan People's Party had until now refused to do so, insisting the president enjoys immunity from prosecution while in office.
 
This refusal to comply with the court orders led to the dismissal of one prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, earlier this year on contempt charges. His successor, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, has faced a similar demand since taking charge in June.

During Tuesday's Supreme Court hearing, the prime minister told the court his government has decided to write to Swiss authorities to withdraw a previous letter that halted the corruption probe against Zardari.
 
Supreme Court attorney and legal analyst Babar Sattar says the government's change in stance is a step in the right direction. “They had an entrenched position of not writing or communicating with the Swiss government. It seems that they have changed that position and they are trying to strike the right balance between complying with the court order while not doing anything that would bring harm to the person of Asif Ali Zardari. So I think this is a middle way out, it could prove to be an effective way to defuse the tension and the impending conflict between the judiciary and the executive.”
 
The corruption charges against President Zardari stem from the 1990s when his wife, the late Benazir Bhutto, was the country’s prime minister. The couple were accused of laundering millions of dollars through Swiss bank accounts.
 
But under a controversial law passed in 2007, then-president Pervez Musharraf withdrew the Swiss and other graft cases against Bhutto, her husband, and thousands of others and granted them amnesty.
 
The move was aimed at promoting political reconciliation by allowing Zardari and  Bhutto to end years of self-exile and return to Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto was assassinated during a campaign rally shortly after she returned, but the sympathy vote helped her party win the 2008 elections that paved the way for her husband to become president.
 
But the Supreme Court struck down the controversial amnesty in 2009 and ordered the government to revive corruption cases against several politicians, including President Zardari.
 
During Tuesday’s proceedings, the five-member Supreme Court panel gave the government until September 25 to show the court a draft of the letter before it is delivered to Switzerland. The head of the panel, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, also instructed the prime minister to confirm by October 2 that the letter has been sent and received by Swiss authorities.
 
Many experts do not see any immediate legal troubles for President Zardari even if Switzerland reopens the graft case against him, saying it will be entirely up to the Pakistani government to determine the pace of future legal proceedings.

Many also believe that without canceling constitutional immunity for the president at home, it will be difficult for Pakistani prosecutors to convince Swiss authorities to reopen the corruption case against Zardari.

You May Like

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid