Bloomberg News

Pakistan Anti-Graft Chief Says No Evidence to Arrest Premier

January 17, 2013

Pakistan’s anti-corruption agency told the chief justice there isn’t enough evidence to arrest the Prime Minister and others accused of graft in awarding power contracts, two days after the top court had roiled the buildup to a landmark election by ordering their detention.

“There’s no prosecutable evidence against the accused,” Fasih Bokhari, chairman of Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau, told the Supreme Court in Islamabad today.

The court had on Jan. 15 ordered the agency to arrange warrants for the arrest of Premier Raja Pervez Ashraf and 15 other accused over the handling of contracts for rented power units, and present a compliance report today.

Renewed confrontation between Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and the elected administration came amid a rally in Islamabad by an Islamic cleric demanding the government step down immediately and allow the army and top judges to help form a caretaker administration.

Bokhari’s statement was rejected by the court. “You are negating the judgment, your investigating officer has set aside our judgment,” Chaudhry said, telling the head of the government graft agency to present the relevant files before the court within 20 minutes.

Pressure is mounting at a time when President Asif Ali Zardari’s democratically elected administration seeks to create history by becoming the first to complete its five-year term and transfer power through a ballot in a country ruled for half its history by the military.

Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said yesterday that the national and regional assemblies would be dissolved on March 16, and general elections would be held between May 5 and May 15.

To contact the reporter on this story: Haris Anwar in Islamabad at hanwar2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net


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