Pak SC issues contempt notice to NAB chief

Islamabad: Head of Pakistan's anti-corruption watchdog was today served with a contempt of court notice by the Supreme Court for writing a letter to the President in which he had complained about the apex court's alleged interference in ongoing investigations into several scams.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry issued the notice to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Fasih Bokhari and summoned him to personally appear in court on February 4.

Bokhari was directed to submit a reply before the next hearing.

In the letter sent to President Asif Ali Zardari earlier this week, Bokhari had said he would be forced to resign if steps were not taken to counter the Supreme Court's alleged interference in investigations into several corruption scams.

Bokhari, a former naval chief, contended that the apex court had breached the line between monitoring investigations to ensure impartiality and actively guiding the probes.

He further said NAB investigators were being pressured by judges to "proceed along lines which seem to be desired by the Supreme Court".

After the letter was leaked to the media, the Chief Justice had sought an explanation from NAB officials during today's hearing.

After hearing arguments from NAB officials, the bench issued the notice asking Bokhari to explain why action should not be taken against him for contempt of court.

Bokhari's letter had hinted that elements could take advantage of differences between the executive and judiciary, and the Supreme Court, in its order, barred the civilian administration and the military from using the letter as the basis of any "unconstitutional step".

The apex court said a parliamentary system is working according to the law and Constitution and Pakistan was set to go to the polls to choose a new government.