Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

WORLD [Derived Headline]

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

WORLD [Derived Headline]

Article excerpt

PAKISTAN COURT EXTENDS DEADLINE FOR PRIME MINISTER

ISLAMABAD -- Pakistan's top court today gave the country's prime minister three more weeks to decide whether to obey its order to reopen an old corruption case against the president or face the prospect of being ousted from office like his predecessor.

The decision followed an appearance by Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf before the judges and was seen as a rare conciliatory gesture by the supreme court toward the government after months of conflict over the issue.

With the reprieve, the judges may be responding to criticism from the public for relentlessly pursuing the case. Some have suggested the court should focus on legal matters affecting ordinary citizens and leave the government alone to tackle pressing problems like the country's ailing economy and fight against the Taliban.

The dispute centers on a graft case in a Swiss court against President Asif Ali Zardari dating back to the late 1990s. The Pakistani Supreme Court has demanded the government write a letter to Swiss authorities asking them to reopen the case. The government has refused, saying Mr. Zardari enjoys immunity from prosecution while in office.

Mr. Zardari is in little immediate danger of being tried -- the Swiss have indicated they have no plans to continue with the case, at least not while the president is in office. But the supreme court still wants the government to write the letter.

SYRIAN HELICOPTER CRASHES DURING FIGHTING

BEIRUT -- A Syrian military helicopter caught fire and crashed today after it was apparently hit during fighting between government forces and rebels in the capital Damascus, an activist group said.

State-run media confirmed the crash in Damascus but gave no details. A video posted on the Internet showed the chopper in flames shortly before it hit the ground.

The official Syrian News Agency, SANA, also reported that authorities today released a total of 378 people detained for their participation in street protests. It said those freed were never involved in acts of violence. The prisoners were released at the police headquarters in Damascus and the central city of Homs. …

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