Pakistan PM asks Swiss to reopen graft case against president

Updated 07 November 2012
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Pakistan PM asks Swiss to reopen graft case against president

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s prime minister has asked Swiss authorities to reopen an old corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari, succumbing to pressure from the country’s increasingly powerful Supreme Court.
The court gave Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf until Nov. 14 to submit the request, threatening to charge him with contempt of court or face disqualification if he did not comply.
The case has fueled tensions in a long-running standoff between the government and the judiciary. Ashraf’s predecessor, Yusuf Raza Gilani, was declared in contempt of court in June over the same issue and disqualified from holding the post of prime minister.
If Ashraf is disqualified, the ruling Pakistan People’s Party can simply nominate a new prime minister since it has a comfortable majority in parliament.
But any prolonged political instability would further distract an unpopular government which has failed to tackle a wide range of issues, from a Taleban insurgency to crippling power cuts.
Thousands of corruption cases were thrown out in 2007 by an amnesty law passed under former military president Pervez Musharraf, paving the way for a return to civilian rule.
Two years, later the Supreme Court ruled that agreement illegal, and ordered the reopening of money laundering cases against Zardari that involved Swiss bank accounts.
“Now the ball is in the Swiss court and it’s up to Swiss authorities if they want to immediately re-open the cases, or ... simply bury the case altogether,” said Babar Sattar, a legal commentator.
Swiss judicial authorities began investigating allegations in the late 1990s that Zardari, and his late wife, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, had taken kickbacks from Swiss cargo inspection companies and channelled some $12 million via offshore companies into Swiss accounts.
Swiss authorities said that in 2008 the Pakistani government dropped all related cases it had initiated in Switzerland after Bhutto’s party won an election and Zardari become president.
A Swiss prosecutor told Reuters in 2010 that Switzerland would not reopen the case against Zardari as long as he enjoyed presidential immunity in Pakistan, and if he no longer had immunity in Pakistan, he should be tried there.

 


Afghan Taliban frown at militants’ Eid cease-fire selfies

Updated 38 min 53 sec ago
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Afghan Taliban frown at militants’ Eid cease-fire selfies

  • Both the Afghan government and the militants declared temporary cease-fires for the end-of-Ramadan Eid Al-Fitr holiday
  • The Taliban cease-fire ended on Sunday. The government extended its cease-fire with the Taliban, which had been due to end on Wednesday, June 20, by 10 days

PESHAWAR, Pakistan: The Afghan Taliban are angry at their members swapping selfies with soldiers and government officials during their three-day cease-fire, a senior Taliban official said on Monday, after the militants roamed at will through cities before the truce ended.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the Taliban official also said Pakistan had wanted the Taliban to include US and other foreign troops in the cease-fire, but the Taliban’s leadership and supreme commander, ‎Sheikh Haibatullah Akhunzada, did not agree.
“Last night, an emergency meeting was called and all the commanders were informed and directed to take strict disciplinary action against all those Taliban members who visited citizens and took pictures with the Afghan authorities,” he told Reuters.
Some Taliban seen taking selfies w‎ith Afghan government forces and officials had been warned, the Taliban official said.
Both the Afghan government and the militants declared temporary cease-fires for the end-of-Ramadan Eid Al-Fitr holiday, leading to fraternization between the two sides as militants emerged from their hideouts to enter towns and cities.
The government cease-fire did not include the Islamic State militant group and the Taliban did not include US-led foreign forces in theirs.
The Taliban cease-fire ended on Sunday. The government extended its cease-fire with the Taliban, which had been due to end on Wednesday, June 20, by 10 days.
Another Taliban commander, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said that some attacks had been planned in the southern Afghan province of Helmand where short clashes were reported, according to the spokesman for the Helmand governor.
Anti-war activists set off on a peace march last month, spending the fasting month crossing harsh, sun-baked countryside en route to Kabul where they arrived on Monday, their numbers swelling and ebbing at different points along the route.
Abdul Rahman Mangal, spokesman for the Maidan Wardak provincial government, next to Kabul, said the Taliban attacked two security checkpoints in the Saidabad district in the early hours of Monday which “left casualties.”
Clashes were also reported in Faryab in the northwest and Laghman, to the east of Kabul, and Nangarhar, on the border with Pakistan and the scene of two bomb blasts over the weekend, one of which was claimed by Islamic State.
While many war-weary Afghans welcomed the cease-fires and the fraternization between the combatants, some have criticized the government cease-fire, which allowed the Taliban to flow into cities, though the militants said they were withdrawing.
The Taliban are fighting US-led NATO forces combined under the Resolute Support mission, and Ghani’s US-backed government to restore sharia, or Islamic law, after their ouster by US-led forces in 2001.
But Afghanistan has been at war for four decades, ever since the Soviet invasion in 1979.