Saturday, February 20, 2010

LAW MINISTRY BLOCKING SWISS CASES


Despite SC demand, Law Ministry blocking Swiss Cases

By Ansar Abbasi

ISLAMABAD: While the NAB chairman is facing the wrath of the Supreme Court for not implementing the two-month-old NRO verdict, the Law Ministry, led by the close confidant of the president, is still determined to block the reopening of Swiss corruption cases.

Sources in NAB told The News on Friday that despite being formally approached and reminded, the Law Ministry is sitting on the issue of reopening of foreign cases and is not responding to NAB’s pending request on the matter.

These sources said that after being warned by the Supreme Court on Friday over the non-implementation of the NRO decision, the NAB chairman approached the Law Ministry to take a decision on the Bureau’s pending request for the reopening of foreign and Swiss cases against President Asif Zardari and others.

The Supreme Court’s observations on Friday emphasised on the reopening of all the cases without any exception, thus giving strength to the view that cases against President Asif Ali Zardari are also required to be reopened both within the country and outside unless the government or the president’s counsel seek from the apex court the cover of the constitutional immunity.

The question of presidential immunity was never discussed in the NRO case, therefore, the apex court in the NRO case directed NAB and other authorities to reopen all corruption cases both within the country and outside without any exception.

After the Supreme Court’s decision on the NRO, the NAB sources said the Bureau formally wrote to the Law Ministry to issue the required directions for the reopening of foreign cases, but the Law Ministry has yet to take any decision.

“We have even given some reminders that are part of official record but still the Law Ministry has not taken a decision,” a senior NAB source said, arguing that placing NAB under the Law Ministry has made the bureau ineffective.

NAB sources also admit that the prosecution of NAB cases is ineffective and almost a fraud because of the very reason that the brigade of prosecutors, appointed by Farooq H Naek during his tenure as law minister, are all from the People’s Lawyers Forum.

“We discuss the cases in our headquarter and resolve to contest them and pass on the same directions to our prosecutors, but what can we do if the prosecutors do not speak in the courts or do not present crucial evidence against the selected accused,” the NAB source said, admitting that the same is happening in the court on NAB cases.

NAB officials are frustrated with the present situation and seek the kind of autonomy that is required for effective prosecution. Babar Awan, one of those generally held responsible for the recent government debacle on the judges’ appointment, is the political master of NAB as the minister for law. Awan was given the Law Ministry after the Supreme Court handed down its decision on the NRO and despite the fact that in the Bank of Punjab fraud case one of the directors of Harris Steel alleged that Babar Awan had taken bribe of Rs35 million from Harris Steel to get a favourable decision from the Dogar supreme court.

SOURCE : The News International
Saturday, February 20, 2010

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