Fasih Bokhari, head of the government's anti-corruption unit, the National Accountability Bureau, told the Supreme Court on Thursday that the initial investigation into corruption allegations against Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz was flawed. He said he needed more time to determine whether the premier should be arrested.
The case involves kickbacks that Ashraf allegedly took when he was minister of water and power. They were related to projects to build private power stations to provide electricity to energy-starved Pakistan. The prime minister has denied the allegations.
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 grilled Bokhari, who was appointed by the president, and eventually demanded that he deliver a detailed report on the case when the hearing resumes on Jan. 23.
"There may be some who consider themselves above the law, but let me make it clear there is no one above the law," Chaudhry said.
The Supreme Court has clashed repeatedly with the government during the past year, especially over an old corruption case against Pakistan's president in Swiss court. Pakistan's Supreme Court convicted Ashraf's predecessor, Yousuf Raza Gilani, of contempt of court for refusing to reopen the case and ousted him from office.
Also Thursday, gunmen riding a motorcycle in the southern city of Karachi killed a provincial lawmaker from the city's most powerful party, the Muttahida Quami Movement, and one of his police guards, said police spokesman Imran Shaukat. Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan claimed responsibility for the shooting by telephone to The Associated Press.
Associated Press writers Rasool Dawar in Peshawar, Pakistan, and Adil Jawad in Karachi, Pakistan, contributed to this report.