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Pakistan attorney general quits amid graft dispute

Pakistan attorney general quits amid graft dispute

Pakistan's attorney general resigned Friday, accusing the government of preventing him from carrying out orders from the Supreme Court to reopen old graft investigations into President Asif Ali Zardari.
Anwar Mansoor's announcement was the latest chapter in a simmering dispute between the judiciary and Zardari that risks destabilizing the government just as Washington wants it to focus on the threat posed by al-Qaida and Taliban militants close to the Afghan border.
The Supreme Court last year struck down a controversial amnesty that had been protecting Zardari and scores of other top officials from prosecution over allegations of corruption dating back several years. Earlier this week, it ordered those cases reopened.
Mansoor said the Law Ministry had been denying him access to documents needed to carry out the Supreme Court order.
"The Supreme Court is our top institution, and there is no way you can defy its orders," he said after announcing his resignation on the steps of the building in the capital, Islamabad.
Zardari is a major beneficiary of the graft amnesty, which was part of a broader U.S.-backed deal to allow his wife and her political allies to return to Pakistan in 2007 and take part in elections safe from prosecution on charges they have long maintained were politically motivated.
His supporters and many independent experts say Zardari has immunity from prosecution so long as he is president.
The Supreme Court has zeroed in on case that had been taken up by the Swiss government against Zardari that was halted in 2008 under the amnesty. Zardari and Bhutto were found guilty in absentia in a Geneva court in 2003 of laundering millions of Swiss francs (dollars). They were handed six-month sentences and fined, but both punishments were automatically suspended when they appealed.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ordered the government to contact Swiss authorities to reopen the case.
Swiss prosecutors told reporters that this was impossible because Zardari has immunity.


Updated : 2021-08-06 05:49 GMT+08:00