ISLAMABAD: Following the acquittal of PPP Co-Chairman Asif Zardari in the SGS and Cotectna corruption references, the party has sought a “public apology” from the PML-N for instituting about 17 years ago the “false cases to malign the PPP leadership”.

But the demand for public apology was immediately rejected by the PML-N which says “acquittal from the court does not mean that the corruption has not been committed.”

Know more: Accountability court acquits Zardari in SGS-Cotecna case

Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, PPP Secretary General Raja Pervez Ashraf and Information Secretary Qamar Zaman Kaira said those who had filed the references should confess before the nation that they had done so on political grounds and to carry out media trial and character assassination of the PPP leadership.

An Islamabad accountability court had acquitted Mr Zardari in the references on Tuesday because of ‘weak’ evidence. The PPP leader had been nominated in the cases in 1998 during the second tenure of the PML-N government.

After his acquittal, Mr Zardari now faces only one reference pertaining to his alleged illegal assets, which is pending in a Rawalpindi accountability court.

Mr Ashraf wondered about justification for filing the SGS-Cotectna references. “Who are responsible for putting Mr Zardari behind bars? Their faces must be exposed,” the former prime minister said.

He asked the chief justice of Pakistan, the National Accountability Bureau and other people and institutions concerned to stop the “drama” of tarnishing the image of politicians.

He said the PPP was not against accountability and wanted severe punishment of the people who had committed wrongdoings and corruption.

According to his information, Mr Ashraf said, 36 references were pending against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

He said he found it strange that the cases against PPP leaders were tried in courts but the Nandipur scam involving PML-N leaders had been investigated by the auditor general.

Replying to a question, he said those responsible for instituting the SGS-Cotectna references ruled the country in 1998 and were still in power.

When asked to specify names, Mr Kaira took the names of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and former chairman of Ehtesab Commission Saifur Rehman.

On the other hand, PML-N Infor­mation Secretary Mushahidullah Khan rejected the PPP’s call for a public apology and, instead, asked leaders of the party to apologise to the nation for “plundering and looting the national exchequer”.

Commenting on Mr Zardari’s acquittal, he said it was caused by the prosecutor’s failure to prove the charges. “Mr Zardari has done PhD in two disciplines — how to commit corruption and how to save his skin,” he added.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2015

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