A Supreme Court order to arrest the Prime Minister of Pakistan on corruption charges has been dismissed by the head of National Accountability Bureau, Fasih Bokhari, who refused to comply with the court’s order to arrest PM Ashraf.
The attest order was issued on Tuesday by the Supreme Court, which demanded that Prime Minister Ashraf be brought before the court within 24 hours. Mr Bokhari, however, said on Thursday that the corruption case was flawed and that he needed more time to determine whether or not the PM should be arrested.
According to Mr Bokhari, who was appointed as the head of Pakistan’s anti-corruption efforts by President Zardari, the investigating officers “were not able to bring incriminating evidence but relied on oral statements which are not warranted in the court of law.”
Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry criticized the decision, questioning why more time would be needed when the case has already been pending for a year. He ordered Bokhari to bring the case files back to the Supreme Court judges so that they could determine whether there was enough incriminating evidence, but Bokhari claimed that it was not possible to do so in such a short space of time.
“There may be some who consider themselves above the law, but let me make it clear there is no one above the law,” said Chaudhry.
The case against Mr Ashraf claims that he took bribes in order to approve power generation bids during his time as Minister for Water and Power. The Prime Minister has denied the allegations.
Political Chaos in Pakistan
With thousands of anti-government protesters on the streets of Pakistan’s capital, Mr Bokhari may have come under pressure to delay the case against the Prime Minister in order to avoid further political instability.
Firebrand cleric Tahir ul Qadri is calling for the government to step down, and for the military to appoint an interim government ahead of fresh elections. Some commentators have accused Qadri of being a front man for a back-door military coup. Pakistan has a long history of military coups.
Elections are due to be held in Pakistan this spring, and Mr Bokhari may be trying to delay the case until after the elections.