Pakistan government submits Swiss letter draft to court

Pakistan government submits Swiss letter draft to court

The Pakistani government Tuesday submitted to the Supreme Court the draft of a letter to be sent to Swiss authorities to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. But the bench pointed to discrepancies between the draft and an earlier letter.

Law Minister Farooq H. Naek presented the draft of the letter to the apex court, reported Geo News. The minister also presented Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf's letter delegating authority to him to write the letter to Swiss authorities when the Supreme Court resumed hearing of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) implementation case.

The bench objected to the content of the draft letter, with Justice Asif Khosa pointing out the difference between the reference numbers of the letter written by former attorney general Malik Qayyum and the draft of the letter prepared by the government.

On Sep 18, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf Tuesday told the Supreme Court that the government has decided to withdraw a letter sent out during Pervez Musharraf's tenure to close graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

Accused of graft, Zardari was granted amnesty under the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) in 2007 by then president Pervez Musharraf to facilitate his return home from exile, and primarily that of his wife, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

Zardari and Bhutto were suspected of using Swiss accounts to launder about $12 million in alleged bribes paid by companies seeking customs inspection contracts in the 1990s. The NRO that granted immunity to politicians and bureaucrats in corruption cases was struck down by the Supreme Court as void in 2009.

The apex court in January ordered Gilani to write a letter to the Swiss authorities to reopen cases against Zardari. Gilani was convicted April 26 of contempt of court, and was disqualified as prime minister as well as parliament member June 19.