Pakistan's anti-graft court Friday ordered reopening of corruption cases against former president Asif Ali Zardari just a few weeks after he stepped down on completion of his five-year term, officials said.
None of the case had been heard for five years due to Zardari's immunity as the president, Xinhua reported.
A National Accountability Bureau's (NAB) judge ordered reopening of the cases against Zardari, the co-chairman of the main opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP). The accountability court has issued notice to the prosecutor general of NAB in five references against Asif Ali Zardari, officials said.
The court in the garrison city of Rawalpindi near the capital Islamabad also ordered a response from the former president within two weeks. The court notice stated that Zardari's immunity to trial ended with him stepping down from the presidency.
The government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had not approached the court for reopening of the cases as analysts say it did not want political polarization. However, NAB judge Bashir Ahmed reopened the five references cases. The PPP has not yet reacted to the development.
Former president Pervez Musharraf had withdrawn all cases against Zardari under a controversial amnesty deal in 2007. The Supreme Court had later cancelled the National Reconciliation Ordinance and reopened all corruption cases against Zardari and nearly 8,000 other people, including political leaders and former government officials.
Swiss authorities, who were contacted by the government to reopen the pending graft cases against Zardari, rejected the plea Oct 8 on the ground that the time limits have passed. The then PPP-led government had initially refused to send a letter to Swiss authorities for reopening the cases. It had argued that since Zardari was the president, he enjoyed immunity.