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PPP won’t run away from accountability: Zardari

December 21, 2009

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, who could be tried for corruption after a court nullified an amnesty against graft, said Monday that his Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) would never “run away” from accountability and would face the courts like it had in the past.

The assertion came during a meeting at the Aiwan-e-Sadr with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to discuss the situation arising out of the Supreme Court striking down the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) promulgated in October 2007, Online news agency reported.

Sources quoted Zardari as saying the government would never take any step that could prove detrimental to democracy.

Matters pertaining to overall political situation in the country and the repeal of the 17th amendment that transferred executive powers to the presidency from the prime minister’s office were among the other issues discussed, as also the possibility of a rapprochement with estranged coalition partner Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

The NRO had granted immunity from corruption charges to slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and her husband Zardari, as also hundreds of politicians and bureaucrats, and had enabled them return home from exile.

A 17-member Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had ruled Dec 16 that the decree was illegal and against the constitution.

The NRO, issued by former president Pervez Musharraf, had scrapped all corruption cases against politicians and bureaucrats filed between January 1986 and October 1999, on the grounds that they may have been politically motivated.

Former federal minister Mubashar Hassan, former bureaucrat Roedad Khan, Qazi Hussain Ahmed and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had challenged the NRO before the Supreme Court in 2007.

“All steps taken, actions suffered, and all orders passed by whatever authority, any orders passed by the courts of law including the orders of discharge and acquittals recorded in favour of the accused persons, are also declared never to have existed in the eyes of law and resultantly of no legal effect,” the court ruled in its short order read out by Chief Justice Chaudhry.

Among those affected by the order are Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar. A day after the verdict, the latter was prevented from proceeding on a foreign tour.

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