Police stand guard outside the Supreme Court after it ordered the release of former Prime Minister Imran Khan two days after his arrest in Islamabad, Pakistan, 11 May 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/SOHAIL SHAHZAD

Pakistan’s apex court orders reopening of graft cases against public officials

Islamabad, Sep 15 (EFE).- Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Friday ordered the country’s anti-corruption body to reopen all graft cases against public officials, including two former prime ministers, that were withdrawn after amendments to the country’s accountability laws.

The decision came after the top court nullified the amendments made to the country’s accountability laws during the previous coalition government of former PM Shehbaz Sharif.

The ruling could lead to the restart of corruption cases against former PMs Shehbaz Sharif, Nawaz Sharif and former president Asif Ali Zardari, among others.

Moreover, the decision may prevent some politicians, involved in the corruption cases, from participating in the upcoming general elections, scheduled for the end of the year.

According to local media, the court order empowers the country’s National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to revise approximately 1,809 graft cases involving 450 individuals, including seven previous prime ministers, 14 former chief ministers, 78 ex-ministers, and 176 former members of the parliament.

The Supreme Court issued the order in response to a petition from opposition leader and former Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Khan alleged that the legal amendments had been introduced to benefit influential politicians, including his political rivals, and to legitimize corruption.

One such amendment had barred the NAB from pursuing a corruption case involving a little less than 500 million rupees ($1.6 million), enabling several politicians from the previous coalition government to be acquitted and the cases against them being suspended.

“The Supreme Court has scrapped the amendments made to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) of 1999,” Ahmed Janjua, a spokesperson for Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, said in a statement.

The apex court also invalidated verdicts issued by accountability courts in light of the amendments made to the anti-corruption laws. EFE