ISLAMABAD - The Swiss authorities conveyed to Pakistan on Tuesday that the request of the PML-N government to reopen the pending graft cases against former president Asif Ali Zardari cannot be entertained as the cases are time-barred.
In their latest response, the Swiss authorities reiterated that the time to re-open graft cases worth $60 million against Zardari had passed.
Interestingly, the Swiss response came the day the PML-N and the PPP agreed on a NAB chief nominee. NAB is the authority to pursue such matters as Zardari’s cash stashed in Swiss banks.
According to informed sources, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would decide a new course of action after consulting legal aides.
Sources said that the Swiss authorities have categorically informed the Ministry of Law and Justice that its request to reopen the cases cannot be entertained in view of Switzerland’s policies and rules.
Despite frequent attempts, neither the Law secretary nor any of senior officials of the Ministry were available for comments.
In April 2010, Swiss Attorney General Daniel Zappelli had stated that since Zardari as President enjoyed immunity under international law, Swiss courts could not entertain any request to reopen the cases against him.
The former president, prior to culmination of his tenure, had told media persons that he had contested Swiss cases before and would contest them in future.
The Opposition leader in the National Assembly, Khursheed Shah had also stated that PML-N was reopening the Swiss cases which were earlier closed by the courts.
The government had constituted a two-man probe team which held former law secretary Yasmin Abbasi responsible for the missing documents pertaining to the revival of graft cases against former president Asif Ali Zardari in Switzerland.
The report of the inquiry, conducted by Cabinet Secretary Sami Saeed and Intelligence Bureau Chief Aftab Sultan, was submitted to the Supreme Court.
The committee was mandated to establish facts about the missing records of the earlier letter written by the Swiss authorities to the government of Pakistan on February 4, 2013 declining to reopen graft cases worth $60 million against former President Zardari.
In its findings, the probe committee stated that the entire matter pertaining to correspondence to and from the Ministry of Law was handled in the office of Ms Abbasi.
According to the report, she never interacted with the probe committee despite repeated requests and instead questioned the legality of the proceedings of the committee in a note sent to it.
The committee has not been able to find any direct evidence that the February 4 decision of the Swiss authorities was ever conveyed to Islamabad before June 16.
Last month, Attorney General Muneer A Malik told the apex court that the government was currently probing a matter related to the closure of cases against former president Zardari, and particularly the secret letter written by Ms Abbasi.
The letter written by Ms Abbasi to Dr Nicholas Jeanding of law firm Fontanet Associes in Geneva on November 22, 2012 asked him not to revive the cases.
The government’s letter was forwarded to the Swiss authorities following the apex court’s directions that the cases should be revived.
The apex court then decided that it would take action after going through the outcome of the inquiry. Now, the 35-page report has been submitted before the court.