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Pakistan court issues arrest warrant for interior minister after amnesty struck down

[JURIST] A Pakistani court on Friday issued an arrest warrant for Interior Minister Rehman Malik [official profile] on corruption charges, following Wednesday's Supreme Court [official website] ruling striking down an amnesty order [JURIST report]. The Supreme Court ruled [order, PDF] that the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) [text], which granted immunity to President Asif Ali Zardari [official website] and 8,000 other government officials from the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) [party website], is unconstitutional. Malik is among 19 officials whose corruption cases the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) [official website] has petitioned to reopen [PTI report] in an anti-corruption court in Rawalpindi. The NAB has also petitioned a Lahore court to reopen the cases of 32 individuals, including that of Defense Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar [official profile]. That court has already issued three notices to appear, including one to PPP secretary general Jahangir Badr. The NAB has banned 247 individuals from leaving the country, including Malik and Mukhtar, and Mukhtar was prevented from going on an official visit to China Thursday night. Zardari called an emergency meeting [Dawn report] of Pakistan's top ministers Friday to discuss the current political situation.

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

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