Zardari graft cases: Pak SC approves Swiss draft letter

ISLAMABAD (TIP): After weeks of wrangling, Pakistan Supreme Court on Wednesday approved a third draft of a letter that will ask Swiss authorities to revive graft cases against Asif Ali Zardari, with the government making it clear that any proceedings in that country would be conditional to the immunity available to the president.

Law minister Farooq Naek submitted the draft letter to a five-judge bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, which approved the document after examining it behind closed doors.

The draft letter — the third presented by the government before the court which had objected to the contents of the previous two — made it clear that any proceedings in Switzerland would be conditional to the immunity provided to the president by the constitution and Pakistani and international laws.

Referring to a letter written to Swiss authorities in 2007 by the then attorney general Malik Qayyum for closing the cases against Zardari, the latest draft said that document should be considered as retracted and “never written”. Restoration of legal assistance between the two countries was also referred to in the draft. However, the apex court turned down Naek’s request to withdraw a contempt notice issued to Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, saying a decision in this regard could be taken only after the issue of approaching the Swiss authorities is fully resolved. On being asked by the bench how long it would take to send the letter to Switzerland, Naek said the draft would have to be translated into French and then sent through the foreign ministry.

He sought four weeks to complete the process and the court accepted his request. The court subsequently adjourned the case till November 14. Over the past few weeks, the government and the court have sparred on the issue of framing the formal request for the revival of cases against Zardari over the alleged laundering of some USD 60 million.

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