Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has said the PPP-led government will not approach Swiss authorities to reopen a probe into allegations of money laundering against him, a move that could anger the Supreme Court which has been demanding the revival of the cases.
Mr. Zardari said asking the Swiss government to revive the corruption cases would be tantamount to putting his slain wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, on trial.
“It is a point of principle...the Pakistan People's Party will not try the grave of [Benazir Bhutto],” he said.
The President made the remarks during an interview with Geo News channel when he was asked if there was a “personal quarrel” between him and Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, who has repeatedly asked the government to write to Swiss authorities to reopen the cases. The cases against Mr. Zardari were closed in 2008 under the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), a graft amnesty issued by the former military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, under a secret agreement with Benazir.
She was killed by a suicide bomber shortly after she returned to Pakistan from self-exile in December 2007.
The General was forced to resign the following year and Mr. Zardari was subsequently elected the President.
In 2009, the apex court struck down the NRO, saying it was illegal and unconstitutional. It then asked the government to revive all cases that were closed under the NRO, including the cases against Mr. Zardari in Switzerland.
The government has refused to act saying the President enjoys immunity from prosecution.
“The NRO case, Swiss courts — these are all history for us. About 12 to 15 months remain of my presidency. After that whichever government comes can write [to the Swiss authorities]. Why should my government write?” Mr. Zardari said.
He said reopening the cases in Switzerland would be tantamount to putting Benazir, now a martyr, and her grave on trial. “No allegations can be made against a martyr.”
To another question, he said the killing of Osama bin Laden by American special forces in Abbottabad in May last year was not the result of an operation conducted jointly by Pakistan and the U.S.
Mr. Zardari made it clear that he did not consider bin Laden a “hero” and that “violence has never been a means to an end for the PPP”.