Pakistan SC lists criminal, graft cases against President Zardari

Fresh can of Worms for:President Asif Ali Zardari

Both cases, titled 'Asif Ali Zardari vs the state', have been added to the apex court's 'Cause List' and will be taken up by a two-member bench.

Notices have been issued to lawyers, including Mehr Khan Malik and Deputy Attorney General Chaudhry Akhtar Ali in connection with these cases.

A statement issued by the apex court on Wednesday, however, clarified that the two cases involving Zardari pertained to 1998-99 and were included in the 'Cause List' that was prepared in August.

"Out of these matters, one relates to the transfer of a case from one court to another while the other case was filed against the order of the High Court of Sindh, Karachi... in which the learned High Court was pleased to release the property of the appellant declared before income tax authorities but restrained to dispose of the same," it said.

These cases "were proposed in routine, being old cases relating to the year 1998-99" and should not cause "any misunderstanding", the apex court said without giving details.

The move comes at a time when a question mark hangs over Zardari's fate following the government's decision to drop its plan to seek parliamentary ratification of a controversial law that granted him immunity in graft cases.

Under an order issued by the Supreme Court on July 31, the government had to get the National Reconciliation Ordinance endorsed by parliament by November 28.

However, the government was forced to drop its plan to introduce the law in parliament due to pressure from political parties, including allies of ruling Pakistan People's Party.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said the NRO has been "buried forever" but some of Zardari's aides have hinted that the PPP is still making efforts to get parliament to endorse the controversial law.

In one of the two cases, PPP leader Aitzaz Ahsan was representing Zardari. When differences emerged between the two due to the movement for the restoration of judges sacked by former President Pervez Musharraf, Zardari appointed his aides Farooq Naek and Latif Khosa as his counsel.

A senior legal expert who was attached with cases pursued by the National Accountability Bureau, which probes charges of corruption, expressed ignorance about the cases.

"All the cases of Ehtesab Bureau were transferred to NAB and all NAB cases had been closed under the NRO," the expert told The News daily.

He said it was possible that these particular cases were closed and might have come up now because of a fresh application filed in the Supreme Court against their closure.
Confusion surrounds the status of cases disposed of under the NRO. Some experts believe the cases stood revived immediately after the apex court delivered its verdict on July 31. Others say the cases will be reopened only after November 28 if the government fails to get NRO ratified by parliament.

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