ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf in the Rental Power Plants case on Tuesday, reported Express News.
The court also ordered all other respondents in the case to be arrested, and gave 24 hours deadline to the authorities to implement the orders.
The court maintained that National Accountability Bureau (NAB) will be responsible if any of the respondents manage to escape.
"The chief justice ordered that all concerned, regardless of their rank, who have been booked in the case be arrested and if someone leaves the country, then chairman of NAB will be held responsible along with his investigating team," lawyer Aamir Abbas told AFP.
"The sixteen include Raja Ashraf," said Abbas, adding that Ashraf had not been referred to by name by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
Abbas, who represents NAB, said the defendants had been ordered to appear before the Supreme Court on Thursday.
In Pakistan's financial capital, the Karachi Stock Exchange fell sharply as reports of the order flashed across local television news channels.
The KSE 100 index lost 453.46 points, or 2.74 per cent, in little over half an hour, to stand at 16,633.18 just before 3:00pm– 559.74 points down on opening.
The Supreme Court's order came at a time when Minhajul Quran International (MQI) chief Tahirul Qadri was leading a long march in Islamabad to demand electoral reforms.
Participants of the march were seen celebrating while chanting "Long Live Supreme Court" when Qadri mentioned the court's decision during his speech.
PM Ashraf was given the title of Raja Rental after he was accused of receiving kickbacks in the rental power projects. He was also accused of buying property in London from money earned through corruption in various scams.
He has been defending himself in the Supreme Court.
On March 30, the apex court had directed the National Accountability Bureau to proceed against those who were in the post of minister for water and power from 2006 till the next general elections. As a result, on April 20, NAB issued arrest warrants for 33 persons, including Ashraf.
Earlier last year, the court directed NAB to proceed against all government functionaries involved, including the ministers for water and power during whose tenure the RPPs were approved or set up, and the minister and finance secretary holding charge when down payment for RPPs was increased from 7% to 14%.
Liaquat Jatoi and Raja Pervaiz Ashraf were water and power ministers in 2006 and 2008, respectively, while Shaukat Tareen was the finance minister in 2008, when down payment was increased.
Of the 19 RPP deals signed initially, only nine were allowed to function after a damning Asian Development Bank evaluation report. Subsequently, six of those nine RPPs were discontinued.