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Pak court issues arrest warrant against Malik
Islamabad, DEC 18 (Agencies):
Published on 18 Dec. 2009 11:51 PM IST
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A Pakistan anti-corruption court on Friday issued an arrest warrant against Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who is one of several ministers and key aides who had protected under a 2007 Amnesty granted to President Asif Ali Zardari. This development has triggered more panic and political uncertainty in the country ever since the Supreme Court struck down an amnesty that protected President Zardari and several of his key aides. Malik, is one of the 248 people who face corruption charges and have been banned by the state anti-graft agency from travelling abroad. The development came hours after Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, also facing corruption charges, was barred from leaving the country sparking fears of a coup in Pakistan. However, the establishment later ruled out fears of a coup. Rumours of a coup started, apparently, when Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, said in response to questioning about the defence minister being denied the right to leave that he hoped there would not be a coup. A spokesman for the state anti-graft agency said on Thursday that after the amnesty had been lifted, the names of about 248 people had been placed on a list of people barred from leaving the country. The tainted ministers are now facing calls to resign. Their departure from government would not have a significant impact on Pakistan's war on militancy which is led by the army. Some legal experts say the danger for Zardari is that the legitimacy of his 2008 election as President could be challenged now that old cases against him have been revived. The amnesty was introduced by former president Pervez Musharraf as part of a power-sharing deal brokered with Bhutto with US and British encouragement. Bhutto returned to Pakistan from self-imposed exile soon after the amnesty was introduced, but she was assassinated weeks later while campaigning for a general election she hoped to win. Instead, Zardari led PPP to victory in the February 2008 polls and became president after Musharraf stepped down later that year. His image, however, has long been tarnished by allegedly shady deals during Bhutto's terms as prime minister when Zardari also served as a minister. Follow the Constitution: US to Pak leadersHe says the charges were politically motivated. He has never been convicted but nevertheless spent 11 years in jail.

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