Pakistani PM Agrees to Court Demand on Corruption Case

Posted September 18th, 2012 at 3:25 am (UTC-5)
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Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has agreed to a Supreme Court demand that corruption cases be reopened against the country's president.

The move could help defuse longstanding tensions between Pakistan's government and the judiciary. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court found former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani guilty of contempt for ignoring the same order. Mr. Gilani was later disqualified from holding office.

During Tuesday's hearing, current Prime Minister Ashraf told the court that he will instruct the law minister to write to Swiss authorities asking them to withdraw a previous letter halting a corruption probe against President Asif Ali Zardari.

The court gave Mr. Ashraf until September 25 to show the court a draft of the letter before it is sent to Switzerland. Supreme Court Judge Asif Saeed Khosa said the prime minister must also inform the court once the letter is sent and received by Swiss authorities. Khosa said that he hoped the matter will be resolved by October 2.

The court also exempted the prime minister from appearing before it again.

Prosecutors accuse President Zardari, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and others of laundering millions of dollars through Swiss bank accounts. Ms. Bhutto, President Zardari's wife, was assassinated in 2007.

Charges against Mr. Zardari and the others were dropped after a 2007 amnesty agreement, but the court struck down the deal in 2009 and has been battling to reopen the cases ever since.

Prime Minister Gilani had refused to cooperate, arguing instead that the president has legal immunity while in office.