Pak's anti-graft watchdog comes to PM's rescue

Prime Minister Raja Pervez AshrafThe threat of a 'soft coup' against Pakistan's government receded today as the head of the country's anti-corruption wing told the Supreme Court that its order to arrest Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf could not be carried out.

The court had, on Tuesday, ordered Fasih Bokhari, chief of the National Accountability Bureau, to arrest Ashraf and 15 others, and bring them before the country's apex court on graft charges. But Bokhari told the court there wasn't enough evidence against Ashraf to warrant his arrest.

The accusations against the prime minister, which he has denied, stem from his time as the minister for water and power. He and the others are accused of corruption in a case involving private power stations built to provide electricity to the energy-starved country.

Bokhari, however, said the investigating officers ''were not able to bring incriminating evidence but relied on oral statements which are not warranted in the court of law''.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry questioned why the anti-corruption chief needed more time since the case against the prime minister has been pending for about a year. He ordered Bokhari to bring the case files back to the judges later in the day so that they can determine whether there is incriminating evidence.

''There may be some who consider themselves above the law, but let me make it clear there is no one above the law,'' said the Chief Justice.