Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said on Thursday that Swiss cases against former president Asif Ali Zardari can be reopened after the discovery of the record by the Broadsheet inquiry commission.
Thanks to the Broadsheet Commission, Govt has discovered all original documents related to SwissBank Accounts Case against Asif ali Zardari, legal team is overseeing and a case will be filed accordingly. Fawad Chaudhry pic.twitter.com/nlWEmtll8l
— MNA (@Engr_Naveed111) April 1, 2021
As the incumbent government’s stated position on accountability has been clear, political commentators are quietly mulling over an important question: will the government go after Zardari?
Briefing media about the federal cabinet meeting that took place in Islamabad with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair, Fawad Chaudhry said that the legal team was working on a Swiss case record against Zardari.
“We are thankful to Broadsheet inquiry commission for finding Swiss cases record against Zardari,” said Chaudhry, adding that National Accountability Bureau (NAB) now has a record of Swiss cases and they can reopen cases against Zardari.
The Broadsheet inquiry commission report was made public today after the approval of the federal cabinet that met with PM Imran Khan in the chair.
The commission has blamed the country’s bureaucracy for delaying payments to the firm hired for finding assets of political leaders abroad that led to a US$9 million fine.
some political commentators are of the view that the government may pretend to be going after Zardari but the case is unlikely to yield desirable political outcomes. Zardari’s relationship with the establishment seems to be normal, they argue.
De-seal Swiss cases record
The Broadsheet inquiry commission in its report recommended to de-seal Swiss cases record of the former president Asif Ali Zardari.
Read More: Arrest warrants for Asif Ali Zardari issued
The committee in its report has unearthed the Swiss cases recorded kept in the record room of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). The inquiry commission recommended de-seal the record of the cases. The record should be reviewed as to what has to be done with it, the Broadsheet committee recommended.
The Swiss cases created a rift between the judiciary and the executive as then Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani refused to write a letter to the Swiss authorities to reopen the case. He was eventually dismissed from office in contempt of court case on April 26, 2012.
Former attorney general Malik Qayyum had written a letter to Swiss authorities in 2012 seeking reopening of graft cases against PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, but the federal government didn’t pursue the matter afterward in earnest.
In 2015, another letter was written to the Swiss authorities who refused to re-open the cases for being time-barred.
The government of the then-president Musharraf had promulgated the NRO, quashing cases against politicians, which cleared the way for many to return to the country.
Swiss government’s response
In 2013, the then-PML-N government opened a letter received from the Swiss government which declared President Asif Ali Zardari a ‘clean’ man in a $60 million money-laundering case closed by a Swiss court after lapse of a specific period.
President Zardari and Benazir Bhutto were accused of purchasing Surrey Palace through ‘illegal’ money. During proceedings of the case, the Swiss authorities liquidated the property because Mr Zardari and Ms Bhutto did not own it and the money obtained through its sale was deposited in a Swiss bank, which was believed to have been drawn by the owners of the palace.
Former law minister Farooq H. Naek, on a directive of the Supreme Court, had written a letter to the Swiss government in December last year for reopening the case and the Swiss authorities replied on Feb 9.
Sources in the law ministry said that according to the letter, the case was timed-barred and after the expiry of a specific period it could not be reopened by the Swiss court.