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Pak's Supreme Court summons Law Minister

Pakistan's Supreme Court on Friday summoned Law Minister Babar Awan to explain why the government had not fully implemented its verdict annulling a graft amnesty that benefited President Asif Ali Zardari and thousands of others.

world Updated: May 14, 2010 12:48 IST

Pakistan's Supreme Court on Friday summoned Law Minister Babar Awan to explain why the government had not fully implemented its verdict annulling a graft amnesty that benefited President Asif Ali Zardari and thousands of others.

A five-judge bench summoned Awan to appear before it on May 25 after Law Secretary Aqil Mirza, who recently resigned, sent a letter to the court saying he could not appear before it as he was very unwell.

The apex court had summoned the Law Secretary and Attorney General Anwar-ul-Haq to appear before it today to explain why the government had not contacted authorities in Switzerland to reopen graft cases against Zardari.

Attorney General Haq informed the bench about the Law Secretary's letter.

In the letter, Mirza said he was very unwell and gave a detailed account of his illness. He also said he had resigned and had nothing to do with the case being heard by the court.

The bench observed that no one was taking responsibility for the failure to implement its verdict on the National Reconciliation Ordinance, a graft amnesty issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharrraf in 2007 that benefited over 8,000 people, including Zardari and several close aides.

The bench also said that the court's ruling was being passed from door to door. The judges said they had tried their best to find out how the verdict was being implemented and it was now necessary to summon the Law Minister to explain the government's position and to tell the bench why the court's verdict has not been implemented.

Shortly before his resignation, Mirza had stunned the court by saying that the cases in Switzerland had been closed and that there was no need for the government to contact Swiss authorities for reopening them.

In recent interactions with the media, Law Minister Awan and other top PPP leaders have made it clear that the President enjoys immunity from prosecution and there was no need to reopen the cases against him in Switzerland.