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Pakistan AG quits amid graft controversy

Associated Press / April 3, 2010

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The country’s attorney general resigned yesterday, accusing the government of preventing him from carrying out Supreme Court orders to reopen graft investigations into President Asif Ali Zardari.

Anwar Mansoor’s announcement was the latest chapter in a simmering dispute between the judiciary and Zardari that risks destabilizing the government just as Washington wants it to focus on the threat posed by Al Qaeda and Taliban militants close to the Afghan border.

The Supreme Court last year struck down a controversial amnesty that had been protecting Zardari and scores of other top officials from prosecution over allegations of corruption dating back several years. Earlier this week, it ordered those cases reopened.

Mansoor said the Law Ministry had been denying him access to documents needed to carry out the Supreme Court order.

“The Supreme Court is our top institution, and there is no way you can defy its orders,’’ he said after announcing his resignation on the steps of the building in the capital, Islamabad.

Zardari is a major beneficiary of the graft amnesty, which was part of a broader US-backed deal to allow his wife, Benazir Bhutto, and her political allies to return to Pakistan in 2007 and take part in elections safe from prosecution on charges they have long maintained were politically motivated.

The Supreme Court has zeroed in on one case that had been taken up by the Swiss government against Zardari that was halted in 2008 under the amnesty.