ISLAMABAD President Asif Ali Zardari has pardoned the revived sentences of Federal Minister for Interior Rehman Malik. Sources in the Presidency confirmed that President Zardari had pardoned the sentences of Rehman Malik awarded to him by the National Accountability Courts in two corruption references in absentia under Section 31(A) of NAB Ordinance. The sentences were revived by Lahore High Court on Monday. This wavier of sentences of Federal Minister for Interior Rehman Malik has triggered a new controversy as even after Presidential pardon Rehman Malik would remain convicted and under the Constitution a convicted person could not hold the ministerial portfolio as well as the Senate slot, commented an imminent lawyer. Rehman Malik was awarded these sentences in two corruption references in absentia as Rehman Malik had left the country and never attended the court proceedings. The NAB courts had declared him proclaimed offender and his perpetual arrest warrants were also issued. Earlier on Monday morning, Lahore High Court upheld Interior Minister Rehman Maliks conviction in corruption cases, handed down by accountability courts and dismissed his appeal-petitions against imprisonment in NAB references. The bench also cancelled stay orders granted earlier to Rehman Malik against his conviction in the two references made by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). In 1997 the federal minister was granted a bail after his conviction. The accountability court had sentenced Malik to three years in prison in each of the two NAB references. In its verdict, the division bench comprising LHC Chief Justice Khawaja Muhammad Sharif and Justice Waqar Hassan Mir observed that before filing appeals he (Malik) should have first surrendered himself to the order of his imprisonment, which means he should have been taken into custody and thereafter he could file appeals from jail. On May 6, the bench after hearing argument from counsels of Rehman Malik and NAB had reserved its verdict on Maliks appeals and on Monday the bench announced its milestone judgment. The LHC also cancelled Maliks bail and stay order previously granted to him against execution of his conviction in the NAB references. Now after the LHC verdict, the federal minister can be arrested any time if he fails to file appeal in Supreme Court against the LHC verdict or to get a bail from the Apex court in the cases. After conviction, if a person is not taken into custody or not admitted to bail, such a person is deemed to be fugitive of law and would not be entitled to any relief, the bench observed in its order while dismissing the ministers appeals. The bench held that Under section 31A of the NAO, 1999 arrest warrants for the accused/convict would be deemed to be intact and still executable by NAB which means that NAB can arrest Malik and take him in custody. The court held that warrants issued by chairman NAB were still intact against Malik and his co-accused in the corruption cases and they might be arrested accordingly. The bench was hearing 19 appeals against convictions by accountability courts of Rehman Malik and his co-accused in various corruption references made by NAB from 2001 onwards. Maliks counsel submitted that since no notice had been sent to the minister to appear before the accountability courts, therefore, a conviction given in his absence from the country was illegal and unlawful, the counsel argued, requesting the Lahore High Court to set aside the conviction. One reference against Rehman was registered by FIA on complaint of one Hashim Raza, a resident of Lahore. He alleged that Rehman Malik along with Muhammad Sajjad Haider, AD/FIA Islamabad and others had raided his house in August 1994 and made off with looted jewellery weighing 20 tolas and Rs7,00,000 cash. The complainant further alleged that two persons in plainclothes had snatched $20,000 from his brother when they had transported him from Lahore Airport to FIA office on his (brothers) arrival from the US. According to NAB, Rehman Malik implicated them in fake cases to please a Major in Pakistan Army who had threatened him in 1990, claiming that Rehman was one of his best friends who would teach him a lesson. In second reference Rehman Malik and others were accused of receiving two cars worth Rs1.8 million from one Saleem Godial of Toyota Central Motors, Karachi as illegal gratification on account of purchase of official vehicles by FIA worth millions of rupees from Toyota Motors.