LAHORE: While PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has termed the arrest of party’s Punjab chapter former president Qasim Zia a “calculated move to discredit political leaders”, its Senator Saifullah Khan Bangash has vowed to take the matter of his son’s arrest by National Accountability Bureau to the Senate.

The PPP leaders feel the NAB has been activated by ‘certain quarters’ only against the party. They smell rat in the cases against Qasim Zia and Shaukatullah Bangash. They claim both cases are years old and have been settled long ago and there is no other “legal justification” for reopening them at this stage, except targeting the PPP.

“The manner in which a director (Qasim zia) of a company, accused of stock market manipulation, has been arrested, while its chief executive gets off scot-free, raises questions about the motives behind the move,” former president Asif Ali Zardari said in a statement on Monday.

He said Qasim Zia had maintained that since 2008 he appeared several times before NAB inquiry teams and clarified his position, having fulfilled his obligations.

“The midnight raid and arrest of Qasim Zia at this point of time seems calculated (and aimed) to discredit political leaders,” Mr Zardari said and asked the government for “coming out clean on the issue and dispel a growing perception of political victimisation of politicians”.

The NAB, on last Saturday, had arrested Pakistan Hockey Federation ex-president and Olympian Qasim Zia on the charges of committing fraud through his brokerage house and got his 10-day physical remand from an accountability court.

Mr Zia and four other directors of the brokerage house are facing the charges of committing a Rs80 million fraud against 80 people.

On the other hand, the accountability court on Monday remanded Shaukatullah Bangash, into NAB Lahore’s custody for five days for allegedly selling a marriage hall illegally.

The NAB arrested Shaukatullah last Sunday for allegedly selling Qasr-i-Zauk Marriage Hall for Rs52.5 million. The bureau had prohibited its sale and purchase.

“I will raise the matter in the Senate as the NAB had illegally arrested my son,” Senator Bangash told Dawn on Monday.

Mr Bangash, who hails from Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, said: “My son had made an agreement with Sheikh Yaqub for buying the 9-kanal marriage hall against Rs450 million in 2006. He paid Rs50 million in advance (to Mr Yaqub) who failed to transfer the hall in his (Shaukatullah’s) name because there were total nine owners and some of them were residing in London,” the Senator said. He further said that later the deal was cancelled as the marriage hall was sold to someone else against Rs580 million.

“We got back our Rs50 million. There was not a single complaint against Shaukatullah as the marriage hall was sold to someone else. We had cleared our position to NAB years ago. Why this sudden change of mind?,” he asked and said it was a classic example of political victimisation and he would raise his voice in the Senate against it.

The PPP Senator has also accused the NAB of manhandling his family members during the arrest of his son in Lahore.

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2015

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