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Political analyst Ayaz Amir
"I don't see how this really damages the government"
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Wednesday, 25 April, 2001, 16:00 GMT 17:00 UK
Pakistan court amends corruption law
Pakistani soldier
The military says it will root out corruption
Pakistan's Supreme Court has ordered changes to be made to the controversial anti-corruption law used by the military government after it took over in 1999.

Ruling on a series of objections to the law raised by political parties, the court said the law was neither discriminatory nor against the constitution.

But it said that the period of detention without charge allowed for should be reduced from 90 to 15 days.

A number of politicians and senior bureaucrats have been detained as part of the anti-corruption drive started by General Musharraf when he overthrew former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in 1999.

'Mixed' ruling

The court described prolonged detention without trial as a violation of personal liberty as guaranteed by the country's constitution, and gave the government two months to make the necessary changes.

Benazir Bhutto
Benazir Bhutto: Corruption investigation underway
The main opposition parties had urged the court to nullify the law in its entirety, arguing that it was draconian and violated the constitution.

The anti-corruption law had also drawn criticism from human rights groups.

However, the court's 342-page judgement did not accept the opposition'sr plea.

The court also upheld the right of the head of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) - the body leading the anti-corruption drive - to decide when and where a particular suspect should be tried.

Lawyers for the opposition parties described the ruling as mixed, saying the court had accommodated some views from both sides.

Members of the military government have said they will honour the ruling, describing it as a major victory for their anti-corruption campaign.

However, correspondents say the effect of the ruling will be to curtail the powers the NAB.

Last year, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment on corruption charges.

Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, whose 1999 corruption conviction was recently set aside, is still under investigation by the authorities in other cases allegedly involving tens of millions of dollars.

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12 Apr 01 | South Asia
Britain hands over Bhutto bank details
03 Apr 01 | South Asia
Bhutto hearing over
09 Aug 00 | South Asia
Politics ban for Sharif and Bhutto
01 Mar 01 | South Asia
Timeline: Pakistan
01 Mar 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Pakistan
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