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.


Afghan leaders ‘optimistic’ over Taliban peace talks

Updated 24 June 2018
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Afghan leaders ‘optimistic’ over Taliban peace talks

  • The Taliban last week rejected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s offer to extend the truce, but a government spokesman said on Saturday that the government was optimistic the militants were willing to engage in peace talks.
  • After ending the truce, the Taliban said its attacks against foreign troops and Afghans supporting them would continue.

KABUL: The Afghan government is confident of holding peace talks with Taliban militants despite a recent surge of attacks by insurgents, a palace spokesman said.

Shah Hussain Murtazawi said the announcement last week of a brief truce by the Taliban over Eid, the increasing movement of extremists and some field commanders to government-held areas, and a call for peace by the Imam of Makkah and the Saudi monarch were the basis of the government’s optimism.

The Taliban last week rejected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s offer to extend the truce, but Murtazawi said on Saturday that the government was optimistic the militants were willing to engage in peace talks.

“A new chapter has been opened and the broad support for a cease-fire and an end to the war are the causes for our optimism,” he told Arab News.

“The fact that Taliban announced a truce and their commanders came into towns and celebrated Eid with government officials are positive signs that the extremists will be ready for talks with the government.”

However, no contact has been established with leaders of the group since the militants called off their truce, Murtazawi said.

After ending the truce, the Taliban said its attacks against foreign troops and Afghans supporting them would continue. Scores of Afghan troops have been killed in a spate of attacks, including assaults on military bases where the insurgents joined government forces to celebrate Eid.

Some tribal chiefs and local officials are calling for “safe zones” where extremists can hold initial talks with the government, according to a local official who refused to be named.