[QODLink]
Central & South Asia

Pakistan top court orders PM arrest

Decision relates to kickbacks case involving contracts awarded when Raja Pervez Ashraf was water and power minister.
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2013 18:41

The Pakistani Supreme Court has ordered the arrest of Raja Pervez Ashraf, the country's prime minister, in connection with a corruption case, officials say.

The court ordered the arrest of Ashraf on Tuesday morning, in case relating to contracts for the purchase of rental power plants by the federal government when Ashraf was the federal minister for water and power.

Ashraf, in his capacity as minister for water and power, "violated the principle of transparency, therefore, [his] involvement in getting financial benefits out of the same by indulging in corruption and corrupt practices cannot be overruled", the order said.

The supreme court ordered the arrest of 16 people, including Ashraf, and directed authorities to present him in court on Thursday, Aamir Abbas, a lawyer for the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), said.

"The chief justice ordered that all concerned, regardless of their rank, who have been booked in the case be arrested and if someone leaves the country, then chairman of [anti-corruption watchdog] NAB will be held responsible along with his investigating team," Abbas said.

Fawad Chaudhry, an adviser to the PM, condemned the court's order, calling it "unconstitutional".

Meeting called

Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani president and co-chairman of Ashraf's Pakistan People's Party (PPP), called a meeting of all parties of the ruling coalition in Karachi on Wednesday in the wake of the announcement.

Raza Rumi, Pakistani journalist, says the warrant puts 'immense pressure' on Islamabad government

"[Raja Pervez Ashraf] was the power and electricity minister and during that time he is said to have embezzled millions of dollars, the case was pending at the Supreme Court and the court therefore decided that the PM should be arrested immediately," Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder reported from Islamabad, the federal capital. 

"There were serious accusations that the PM was directly involved as minister in siphoning off millions of dollars."

Tuesday's court order came as Tahir-ul-Qadri, a populist Muslim leader, demanded the resignation of the government in protests attended by thousands of followers in Islamabad.

His supporters welcomed the news, celebrating at their sit-in protest outside the parliament building.

Separately, Imran Khan, leader of the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, announced that his party would call for nationwide protests if a caretaker government was not announced within eight days.

Pakistan's benchmark Karachi Stock Exchange index fell by nearly three per cent after the news of the supreme court order, highlighting investor anxiety over political uncertainty.

Yousuf Raza Gilani, the previous prime minister, was dismissed by the supreme court in April last year after being found guilty of committing contempt of court by refusing to send a letter to Swiss authorities related to corruption investigations against Zardari.

532

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Frustration grows in Kiev as pledges to end corruption and abuse of power stagnate after Maidan Square protest.
Thousands of Houthi supporters have called for the fall of Yemen's government. But what do the Houthis really want?
New ration reductions and movement restrictions have refugees from Myanmar anxious about their future in Thailand.
US lawyers say poor translations of election materials disenfranchise Native voters.
US drones in Pakistan have killed thousands since 2004. How have leaders defended or decried these deadly planes?
join our mailing list