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Page last updated at 11:19 GMT, Friday, 18 December 2009

Pakistan minister court summons

Rehman Malik
Rehman Malik is one of thousands who benefited from the amnesty

A judge in Karachi has summoned the Interior Minister, Rehman Malik to appear before an anti-corruption court.

It follows a court ruling this week which ruled out an immunity granted to the minister and thousands of other Pakistani officials.

Mr Malik is one of around 250 officials whose corruption and criminal cases have been re-opened.

On Thursday Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar was barred from going to China after he was stopped at the airport.

Mr Mukhtar said immigration officials prevented him from boarding the plane for an official visit.

The latest developments after the supreme court ruled on Wednesday that an amnesty protecting senior members of government was unconstitutional.

Only recently has it been revealed that more than 8,000 politicians and officials benefited from the legislation.

Those under investigation are barred from leaving Pakistan but the others have so far not been named.

Presidential immunity

The BBC's Aleem Maqbool in Islamabad says that the ruling has thrown Pakistan's political administration into turmoil.

Pakistan Internation Airlines jet
Many ministers may now have their movements curtailed

Our correspondent says that calls are growing for the president and the entire government to step down - something presidential aides have said will not happen.

The controversial amnesty was brought in by the previous president, Pervez Musharraf, and its removal opens the way to possible prosecution for allies of the current President, Asif Zardari.

Mr Zardari himself faces several pending court cases against him in Pakistan but is protected by presidential immunity.

Before taking office, he spent years in jail after being indicted for corruption, charges he says were politically motivated.

Pakistan's main opposition, the Pakistan Muslim League-N of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, has called on the president to resign.

Exit list

Mr Mukhtar told local television that his name was on the "exit list" restricting travel and that the federal investigation authorities had said he could not leave the country.

He told Geo TV that he had been planning to visit China for three days on an official visit in connection with the delivery of a warship.

"It was in connection with a corruption case but there is no corruption case against me - it is only an inquiry which is pending against me for the past 12 years."

He said he would "strongly defend" himself in court.

The amnesty was introduced by Mr Musharraf in order to allow Mr Zardari's late wife, Benazir Bhutto, to return to the country and stand for office, with the aim of a possible power-sharing deal with Mr Musharraf.

She returned to Pakistan from abroad after the so-called National Reconciliation Ordinance was signed into law, but was assassinated soon after.



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