Pakistan’s high court strikes down presidential amnesty order

The Supreme Court of Pakistan Dec. 16 struck down the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), which granted President Asif Ali Zardari and 8,000 other government officials immunity from corruption charges. A special 17-member panel of court ruled unanimously that the NRO is unconstitutional, paving the way for corruption charges to be brought against Zardari. President Zardari is immune from prosecution while in office, but challenges to his eligibility as a presidential candidate are expected. Many other government officials, including the interior and defense ministers, could face immediate prosecution.

The court began hearing the legal challenge earlier this month. The NRO was signed by former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf in 2007 as part of a power-sharing accord allowing former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto to return to the country despite corruption charges she had faced. The ordinance also applies to similar charges against politicians who were charged, but not convicted, of corruption between 1988 and 1999. (Jurist, Dec. 16)

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