Not enough proof to arrest Pak PM, says anti-graft wing

Last Updated: Thu, Jan 17, 2013 07:04 hrs

Islamabad: The head of the Pakistani government's anti-corruption wing has refused an order by the country's top court to arrest the prime minister in a graft case.

Fasih Bokhari, chief of the National Accountability Bureau, told the Supreme Court on Thursday that he does not have sufficient evidence to arrest Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf.

The court ordered Bokhari on Tuesday to arrest Ashraf and 15 others accused of corruption in a case involving private power stations built to provide electricity to energy-starved Pakistan.

The accusations against the prime minister, which he has denied, stem from his time as the minister for water and power.

The court ordered Bokhari on Thursday to bring the case files back to the judges so they can determine whether there is incriminating evidence.

Khar says situtation not so chaotic

Meanwhile, Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has said that the situation in the capital, following the Supreme Court order to arrest the prime minister on corruption allegations, was not as "chaotic" as it might appear.

The apex court ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Tuesday. In June, Ashraf replaced Yousuf Raza Gilani, who was disqualified by the apex court in a showdown between the government and the judiciary, reports The News.

According to Khar, what looks like an extremely chaotic situation to the foreigners is actually institutions, which have been stemmed for many years by dictatorial regimes in Pakistan, finding their rightful place.

The arrest order for Ashraf along with a mass protest in the capital, Islamabad, led by Muslim cleric Muhammad Tahirul Qadri, has fueled fears among some politicians that the military was working with the judiciary to force out a civilian leader.

However, the ruling coalition led by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has a majority in parliament and lawmakers can elect another prime minister if Ashraf is ousted.

Khar downplayed the influence of cleric Qadri, who played a role in backing a military coup in 1999. Qadri returned from Canada less than a month ago to lead a call for electoral reforms to bar corrupt politicians from office.

Qadri is camped out near the federal parliament with thousands of supporters and has demanded the government resign.

With the elections due in a few months, President Asif Ali Zardari hopes his administration will be the first civilian government to complete its term in 65 years.

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