Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf today informed Pakistan’s Supreme Court that the government would revoke a former Attorney General’s letter to Swiss authorities for the closure of graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. Appearing before a five-judge bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa to face a contempt charge for failing to reopen the cases against the President, Ashraf said he had instructed Law Minister Farooq Naek to revoke the letter that was written by former Attorney General Malik Qayyum in late 2007. With the revocation of the letter written during the regime of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, it will be up to the Swiss authorities to decide whether the cases against Zardari should be reopened, legal experts said. In late 2007, Qayyum had asked Swiss authorities to close the graft cases against Zardari and his slain wife, former premier Benazir Bhutto, after Musharraf issued the National Reconciliation Ordinance, a graft amnesty that benefited over 8,000 people.
The amnesty was part of a secret deal between Musharraf and Bhutto that facilitated the latter’s return to Pakistan from self-imposed exile. Ashraf told the bench that he would abide by his commitment to find a solution to the issue of the graft cases. After reviewing all aspects of the matter, he said he had decided to revoke the letter written by the former Attorney General and asked the Law Minister to take necessary steps. The premier said he wanted a solution that protects the dignity of both the apex court and the President. He further said the case involves the position of the President and not Zardari personally, and hoped that the apex court would “exercise caution”. The bench told the premier that the court should be formally intimated after the Swiss Attorney General was informed of the latest developments.
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