Pakistan government today stuck to its decision that it would not reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari in Switzerland and told the Supreme Court that reports about his alleged involvement in laundering of $60 million were "exaggerated."
Law Minister Babar Awan, who was summoned by the apex court to explain the government's failure to fully implement a verdict striking down a controversial graft amnesty, told a five-judge bench that his ministry's records stated there was no case against Zardari in Switzerland and no legal proceedings were currently underway in that country.
When the bench asked Awan about steps being taken by the government to bring back to Pakistan the 60 million dollars that were allegedly laundered by Zardari through Swiss bank accounts, the minister said reports in this regard were "exaggerated" and were not based on facts.
Asked by the judges as to who controlled the accounts containing millions of dollars that were frozen by Swiss authorities, Awan replied he had no information in this regard.
Awan told the court he intended to travel abroad in the coming days and sought more time to present the government's viewpoint. He also asked the court to examine certain relevant documents.
Following this, the bench adjourned the matter till June 10.
The apex court had initiated a suo motu case over the government's failure to fully implement its verdict annulling the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), a graft amnesty issued by ex-military ruler Pervez Musharraf in 2007 as part of a secret understanding with slain PPP chief Benazir Bhutto.
Since it struck down the graft amnesty last year, the apex court has been pressing the government to take action against Zardari, one of the key beneficiaries of the NRO.
The graft cases against Zardari in Switzerland and other countries were closed by Musharraf's regime under the NRO.
However, the government has maintained that it will not reopen the cases against the President as he enjoys immunity under the Constitution.
Against the backdrop of speculation about a face-off between the ruling PPP and Supreme Court, Awan told the bench that the government does not desire any sort of confrontation with the judiciary.