Former Oklahoma governor says Pakistan allegations are baseless
By Staff Reports
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
1/15/13 at 11:50 AM
Former Gov. David Walters says he is surprised that the Pakistani Supreme Court ordered Tuesday the arrest of that nation’s prime minister in a controversy tied to Walters, but he doesn’t expect the case will ever be turned to him.
“This in an internal political fight,” Walters said. “They’re much more interested in trying to embarrass the sitting government (than pursuing Walters). They know there’s not evidence.”
Walters Power International was part of a group that contracted to build gas-powered electrical generators in Pakistan, but a variety of technical and political problems short-circuited the deal, which has become a political scandal.
In the latest development, the nation’s Supreme Court ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and a number of other officials on allegations of illegal payments in the deal. Before he was elected prime minister, Ashraf was head of the nation’s water and power utility.
Walters said the issue has been thoroughly reviewed by the National Accountability Bureau — an independent investigation arm of Pakistan’s government — and the U.S. Justice Department, and neither found any evidence of corruption.
But political opponents of Ashraf and President Asif Ali Zardari are determined to keep the controversy roiling in an attempt to influence the country’s upcoming national elections, Walters said.
“The Supreme Court seems intent on trying to make sure the ruling power doesn’t return to power,” Walters said. “It’s kind of hard, when they ‘re on a rampage, to know what’s the appropriate counter for them.”
When his group's contracts with Pakistan’s government went awry, Walters turned to the London Court of International Arbitration, which led to a negotiated resolution with the National Accountability Bureau. He also considered a defamation suit against his accusers, but ultimately abandoned the idea as too expensive.
While Walters has continued to try to look at investment opportunities in Pakistan, he said the continuing political turmoil and judicial interference are poisoning the business climate.
Pakistan has a large, industrious population and many resources needed for development, he said.
“For the Supreme Court to rip up all the normal commercial standards of security and contract law as a means to embarrass the government and to influence the elections is really too bad," Walters said. "They seem to have taken it to a step that is to terribly damaging for investment that I’m not sure how new businesses would make investment in Pakistan in light of this."
David Walters back in 2002. Tulsa World File