Pakistan PM agrees on Zardari probe
ISLAMABAD- The Associated PressPakistan’s prime minister told the Supreme Court yesterday that the government would comply with a demand to reopen an old corruption case against the president, defusing a conflict that has roiled the country’s political system and led to the ouster of the last premier.
President Asif Ali Zardari is likely in little immediate danger from the case in Switzerland, where he is recognized as enjoying immunity from prosecution as a foreign head of state. But the decision came as a surprise to many in Pakistan, given the government had refused for months to follow the court’s order to write a letter to Swiss authorities asking them to reopen the case.
Pakistani PM Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said he finally ordered the letter to be written to the Swiss “in the larger interest of the country.” The case relates to millions of dollars in kickbacks that Zardari and his late wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, allegedly received from Swiss companies when she was in power in the 1990s.
Pakistan was originally a civil party to the case because it was trying to reclaim the money. But it notified Swiss authorities in 2008 that it was withdrawing after the Pakistani government issued an ordinance giving Zardari and other politicians immunity from prosecution in old corruption cases.