Pakistan Supreme Court orders second action against prime minister

Updated 25 January 2013
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Pakistan Supreme Court orders second action against prime minister

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s top court yesterday ordered officials to register a second criminal case against the prime minister, raising the pressure on the government as it nears the end of its term in office.
Last week, the Supreme Court ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in connection with a corruption investigation that dates back to energy projects commissioned when he was water and power minister.
The second case relates to the former head of the oil and gas regulatory authority, Tauqir Sadiq, who fled abroad after being accused of embezzling 83 billion rupees ($850 million) in kickbacks and commissions.
Members of the government accuse the court of waging a politically motivated witch-hunt against the administration, which in March 2013 will become the first elected civilian government in Pakistan to complete a full term in office.
Last June the court sacked Ashraf’s predecessor for contempt over his refusal to ask Switzerland to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari on the grounds that he has immunity as head of state.
The court in 2011 declared Sadiq’s appointment illegal on the grounds that he was not qualified. It ordered the National Accountability Bureau, an anti-corruption watchdog, to investigate him on suspicion of corruption.
The NAB reported back that Sadiq was appointed by Ashraf, then water and power minister, in 2009 and allegedly embezzled 83 billion rupees.
In October 2012 the Supreme Court ordered Sadiq’s arrest.
But despite being on a government blacklist, Sadiq fled the country, allegedly with the help of Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Jehangir Badar, a relative and senior member of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party.
“Why NAB has not taken any action?” Judge Jawwad Khawaja asked NAB officials in court yesterday. NAB officials asked the court for an extra week.
“File references against all those involved, including the minister and other government functionaries who appointed Tauqir Sadiq and all those who facilitated his escape, before Jan. 31,” Khawaja said.


Bolton, Mattis meet at Pentagon

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (L) talks with National Security Adviser John Bolton. (Reuters)
Updated 39 min 32 sec ago
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Bolton, Mattis meet at Pentagon

  • When Mattis first met Bolton at the Pentagon last month, the defense secretary jokingly said: “I’ve heard that you’re absolutely the devil incarnate and I wanted to meet you.”
  • The two men decided to have “regular” meetings

WASHINGTON: US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis met with John Bolton, the new national security adviser to President Donald Trump, at the Pentagon on Wednesday, a spokeswoman said.
The breakfast meeting came amid US media reports that Mattis risks being isolated by Trump’s more bellicose coterie of advisers, including Bolton, an Iraq War-era hawk who has advocated for military action in both Iran and North Korea.
Bolton “was here this morning,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said.
The two men decided to have “regular” meetings, she added, noting that CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Trump’s pick to run the State Department, could join them.
When Mattis first met Bolton at the Pentagon last month, the defense secretary jokingly said: “I’ve heard that you’re absolutely the devil incarnate and I wanted to meet you.”
Mattis, a retired four-star Marine general, is one of a dwindling pool of original Trump picks not to have drawn negative attention from his mercurial boss.
According to multiple reports, after a suspected chemical attack in Syria this month, he successfully pushed Trump to only taking limited action in response, while Bolton wanted a larger operation.
Mattis used to meet regularly with Rex Tillerson, who was fired last month from his position as secretary of state.
Pompeo is seen as being more hawkish than Mattis, further raising the possibility of the Pentagon chief’s influence waning.