Pakistani govt. defies Ashraf arrest order

Pakistan’s anti-corruption chief has defied an order by the Supreme Court to arrest the country’s Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf over corruption charges.

Head of Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau Fasih Bokhari told the top court that there is not enough evidence to arrest the premier.

Bokhari, who was appointed to his post by President Asif Ali Zardari, said on Thursday that the investigating officers “were not able to bring incriminating evidence but relied on oral statements which are not warranted in the court of law.”

He described the investigation as “inaccurate” and “hurried,” saying that he needed more time to decide whether the prime minister should be arrested or not.

The Supreme Court ordered the arrest of Ashraf on Tuesday over the premier’s alleged involvement in a bribery case in 2010 when he was the minister for water and power.

The court also ordered the arrest of 16 others, including three former ministers, in connection with the allegations and gave the authorities one day to arrest the premier and the other suspects.

Bokhari’s comments come following protests held by followers of the anti-government cleric Tahir-ul Qadri in the capital Islamabad to demand the resignation of the government and the dissolution of the parliament.

The officials accuse the cleric of trying to delay the elections, due by May, and sowing political chaos.