Zardari not stepping down as PPP co-chairman, says Gilani

Published October 23, 2015
Former PM Yousuf Raza Gilani leaves the anti-corruption court after the hearing of the case against him on Thursday.—INP
Former PM Yousuf Raza Gilani leaves the anti-corruption court after the hearing of the case against him on Thursday.—INP

KARACHI: Former prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday rejected reports that Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman Asif Zardari was quitting the party office and said that he would return home soon.

“The party is united under his [Zardari’s] leadership and he will return home after overcoming his indisposition,” said Mr Gilani while talking to a group of journalists after speaking to the business community here at a local hotel.

He said that there was no truth in reports that Mr Zardari was relinquishing the post of PPP co-chairman.

Referring to slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s self-imposed exile, he said the party was facing a tough time when Ms Bhutto was out of country but it succeeded in keeping its existence.

Accompanied by PPP Senators Saeed Ghani and Taj Haider, he said the PPP was facing victimisation like it had faced in the past but no one could finish the party.

Present difficulties were not new, he said, asking the party workers to not get disappointed.

Mr Gilani, who came to Karachi to appear in an anti-corruption court for confirmation of his pre-arrest bail in cases pertaining to a trade subsidy scam, said that the PPP was not afraid of facing courts. “We will continue to face the courts whenever summoned.”

In reply to a question, Mr Gilani, who is PPP’s vice chairman, said Karachi was the economic vein of the country as such its stability was necessary.

Referring to the criticism against the PPP leadership for its reconciliation policy, he said due to this policy the PPP succeeded in getting dictator Pervez Musharraf to shed his military uniform and hold the general election. The policy also help strengthened democracy in the country, he added.

Recalling the vision of Ms Bhuuto for making Pakistan an economic model in the region, he said: “We have taken steps to strengthen the economy of the country and we will continue to serve the people whenever get the opportunity.”

In response to a question about Pakistan-India relationship, he said neither Pakistan nor India could afford war and both countries should settle all issues, including Kashmir, through dialogue.

Senator Taj Haider said on the occasion that a conspiracy was being hatched for privatisation of the Pakistan Steel Mills. The land of PSM was owned by the Sindh government and it would amount to a crime if it was disposed of to Sui Southern Gas Co, he added.

Seantor Saeed Ghani, the parliamentary party leader of the PPP in the Senate, said some people saw corrupt elements only in the PPP while no one saw any corruption in the Nandipur, LNG and Metro Bus projects.

Order reserved on bail confirmation plea

An anti-corruption court on Thursday reserved its order till Nov 19 on the interim pre-arrest bail of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in around 10 cases pertaining to a multi-billion-rupees trade subsidy scam.

The former premier, then commerce minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim and some former and serving senior officials of the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) along with others have been booked in many cases for their alleged involvement in approval and disbursement of fraudulent trade subsidies of billions of rupees to several fake companies through fictitious claims and backdated cheques during the tenure of the Pakistan Peoples Party government at the Centre.

Mr Gilani and his former cabinet colleague were charge-sheeted in 12 cases last year and they obtained bail. However, the Federal Investigation Agency also named them in August in supplementary investigation reports of about a dozen new cases relating to the trade subsidy scam.

The court last month granted interim bail to the former premier since he appeared before the judge after issuance of a warrant against him.

When the cases came up for hearing before Judge Mohammad Azeem of the federal anti-corruption court, the defence lawyer requested the court to confirm the interim bail applications stating that the cases were politically motivated as the applicant was earlier framed in 12 cases merely on the basis of one allegation and now more cases were being filed on identical grounds.

However, the FIA’s prosecutor opposed the pleas and argued that the investigating agency had sufficient evidence to establish the cases.

After hearing arguments from both sides, the court reserved its order on the interim bail applications of Mr Gilani till Nov 19 for confirmation or otherwise.

Meanwhile, the court also reissued non-bailable warrants for the arrest of Makhdoom Amin Fahim and other suspects as neither they appeared in court to seek bail after being named in new cases nor the FIA produced them in court.

Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2015

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