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Supreme Court Extends Deadline For Pakistan PM


The Pakistani Supreme Court has again ordered Prime Minister Pervez Ashraf to comply with an order to contact Swiss authorities to ask them to reopen a multimillion-dollar corruption probes into the activities of Pakistan's head of state.

Ashraf appeared in court on August 27 for the latest round in the continuing legal wrangle over reopening graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

A five-member bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa set September 18 as the new deadline for Ashraf to comply with the order.

The case has already cost one prime minister his job.

Ashraf's predecessor, Yousuf Raza Gilani, was thrown out of office for refusing to comply with the court's orders, and last month the court implied that the new premier could suffer a similar fate.

After dismissing Gilani in mid-June, the court had given Ashraf two weeks to indicate whether he would write to the Swiss before adjourning the case to try to find a way out of the stand-off.

The government has resisted judges' demands to reopen investigations into Zardari for more than two years, arguing he enjoys immunity as head of state.

The showdown could force elections before February, when the government would become the first in Pakistan's history to complete an elected, full five-year mandate.

The allegations against Zardari date back to the 1990s, when he and his late wife, former premier Benazir Bhutto, are suspected of laundering $12 million allegedly paid in bribes by companies seeking customs inspection contracts.

In 2009, the court overturned a political amnesty that froze investigations into the president and other politicians, ordering that the cases be reopened.

Based on AFP and Reuters reporting
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