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Graft amnesty: Gilani defends Zardari

December 19, 2009 01:10 IST

Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Friday mounted a spirited defence of Asif Ali Zardari in the wake of the apex court's decision to strike down a graft amnesty, saying the President had already spent 12 years in jail for corruption charges that were never proved.

"These are not new cases. He (Zardari) remained in jail for 12 years and Rs 4 billion to Rs 5 billion was spent in pursuing cases against him (though the charges were never proved)," Gilani told journalists on the sidelines of a function.

Gilani said even if Zardari had committed an offence, he had already completed the requisite jail term for such a crime.

The premier was responding to a question on whether the president should resign on moral grounds in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's verdict striking down the National Reconciliation Ordinance, a law that scrapped graft cases against Zardari and over 8,000 other people.

These were Gilani's first public comments on the NRO issue after the apex court delivered its verdict on Wednesday.

He said the government was waiting for the court's detailed judgement and holding consultations to decide its future course of action.

The government is also compiling details of people who benefited from NRO and they will have to "defend themselves in court", he said.

Gilani also defended his government's handling of the NRO issue and said it was strange that no one was talking about former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who had passed the controversial law two years ago.

"We didn't introduce the NRO and I did not benefit from it," he said. Dictators come and go but there is no accountability (for them). The NRO was created by Musharraf, (former premier) Shaukat Aziz and his cabinet," Gilani said.

Earlier, Gilani met President Zardari at the presidency and discussed the political situation that has arisen following the apex court's ruling.

 


 

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