Pakistan's Supreme Court Monday set a July 12 deadline for the government to take steps to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari in Switzerland, saying it was giving the authorities "one more chance" to address the issue.
A five-member bench of the apex court directed the Law Ministry to prepare within a week a fresh proposal for Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani regarding the reopening of the corruption cases, which were scrapped under a controversial graft amnesty, against Zardari over alleged laundering of USD 60 million.
If the ministry failed to do so, Law Secretary Masood Chishti would have to appear in the court to provide an explanation, the bench said.
The court gave its directive after Attorney General Anwarul Haq informed the bench that the Law Ministry was yet to implement an order issued on June 11.
At the last hearing, the bench had directed the Law Ministry to prepare a proposal for the Premier regarding the revival of the cases in Switzerland.
The Supreme Court had taken up a suo motu case regarding the implementation of its verdict striking down the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), a graft amnesty that was issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in 2007.
The NRO benefitted over 8,000 people, including Zardari and several of his close aides.
Since it annulled the NRO last year, the apex court had been pressing the Pakistan People's Party-led government to reopen graft cases involving Zardari in Switzerland.
The government had stymied the court's moves, saying Zardari enjoyed immunity from prosecution by virtue of holding the post of President. It ignored several directives issued by the apex court on reopening of the cases.
During Monday's hearing, the bench headed by Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk said it was giving the government "one more chance" to address the issue.
In a separate development, a 17-judge bench of the apex court admitted several petitions filed by the government seeking a review of the verdict striking down the NRO and adjourned the matter for indefinite period.