Islamabad, Asharq Al-Awsat – The anti-corruption court in Pakistan has issued an arrest warrant against Interior Minister Rehman Malik and many other senior leaders of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party.
The arrest warrants have been issued in connection with the financial corruption cases that were re-initiated by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in light of Supreme Court judgments reviving corruption cases against ruling party leaders.
In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court declared National Reconciliation Ordinance [NRO] null and void under which corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari and other senior leaders of ruling party were quashed.
Officials of the National Accountability Bureau said that it has re-opened 44 cases against 80 accused after the Supreme Court’s decision of nullifying the NRO. NAB’s prosecutor has submitted an application to issue summon notices for 32 people including politicians. According to NAB out of 80 NRO beneficiaries in Punjab 12 are politicians, 56 are bureaucrats and 12 are government officials.
Pakistan’s Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar, his wife and secretary were barred from boarding a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight headed for Beijing because his name appeared on the list of beneficiaries of National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).
The Government has set travel restrictions on government officials whose names appeared on the list of beneficiaries of NRO.
Mukhtar, his wife Nilofar Mukhtar and Secretary Javaid Asif were stopped by the Federal Investigation Agency’s immigration staff as they tried to board Flight PK-852 on Thursday night.
Meanwhile, pressure is mounting on the government to expel those allegedly corrupt members of government who benefited from the NRO.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister [Yousuf Raza Gilani] said on Thursday that the government had “started consulting legal experts for the implementation” of the verdict, while President Asif Ali Zardari convened a meeting of PPP’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) on Saturday to discuss the judgment’s fallout.
The government gave a cautious response to the judgment, saying that it “respects” the verdict and is awaiting the detailed judgment.
The Minister of State for Law, Afzal Sindhu said that there was no imminent threat to the Presidency because under Article 41 of the Constitution a presidential election can not be challenged in any court.
Political experts believe that besides President Zardari, the situation has also brought Prime Minister Gilani under pressure.
The Supreme Court verdict increased pressure on Mr Gilani to remove the NRO-tainted ministers from his cabinet, they said.
The dilemma for the prime minister is that if he asks these ministers to quit, the pressure will shift to President Zardari, who is also his party’s co-chairman.