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IHC grants protective bail to Zardari in fake accounts case

Updated August 19, 2018

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PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari leaves the Islamabad High Court after hearing on Saturday. His daughter Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari accompanies him.—White Star
PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari leaves the Islamabad High Court after hearing on Saturday. His daughter Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari accompanies him.—White Star

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Saturday granted protective bail to former president and Pakistan People Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari in a money laundering case two days after his arrest warrants had been issued by a banking court.

IHC Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb after a brief in-chamber hearing accepted the plea seeking protective/transitory bail to the former president in the case registered with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) under Sections 419 (punishment for cheating by personation), 420 (cheating and dishonestly Inducing delivery of property), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document), 109 (abetment) of the Pakistan Penal Code, Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 3 and 4 of the Anti-money Laundering Act.

Petitioner says FIA director general is brother of a GDA candidate

In his petition, Mr Zardari claimed that FIA director general Bashir Ahmed Memon, whose brother had contested the general election last month on a ticket of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) — an anti-PPP alliance in Sindh — and FIA’s additional director general Najaf Mirza against whom the petitioner had lodged an FIR in 2005 for a murder assault dragged him in the controversial case despite the fact that his name was not among those nominated in the FIR.

According to Mr Zardari, Mr Mirza is the cousin of his rival Dr Zulfiqar Mirza.

The banking court of Karachi issued arrest warrants for Mr Zardari and 15 others in the money laundering and fake bank accounts case on Aug 16.

Mr Zardari appeared in the IHC along with his lawyers Aitzaz Ahsan, Sardar Latif Khan Khosa, Shahbaz Khosa and Javed Iqbal Wains. Besides Senator Sherry Rehman and his daughter Aseefa also accompanied him.

The PPP co-chairman contended that the FIA was “trying to involve the petitioner in false criminal case in order to malign the leadership of Pakistan Peoples Party”.

The petition stated: “In the recent general elections, the petitioner has been elected as member of the National Assembly and has also taken oath and has fully participated in the election of speaker and deputy speaker… leading his party to participate in this democratic process.”

It added: “A few days back, the petitioner came to know through the media that some inquiry with regard to fake bank accounts is being carried out by the FIA…on August 17, 2018 the petitioner came to know through electronic media that special court for banking offences, Sindh, at Karachi has issued warrants of arrest against the petitioner on the FIA request.”

Apprehending immediate arrest by the FIA, the petitioner sought bail before arrest/transitory bail in order to approach the competent court of jurisdiction in Karachi.

According to the petition, there is not an iota of evidence with the prosecution which could prima facie connect the petitioner with the commission of alleged offences. In such a situation, issuance of warrants of arrest against the petitioner is the extreme step of high-handedness on the part of the prosecution.

Earlier, the FIA had asked the banking court to issue arrest warrants for those who had been declared absconders by the agency in its charge sheet.

The FIA had declared the former president, MPA Faryal Talpur, Anwar Majeed, Abdul Ghani Majeed, Aslam Masood, Mohammad Arif Khan, Adeel Shah Rashidi, Nasser Abdullah Hussain, Mohammad Ashraf, Adnan Jawed, Mohammad Umair, Iqbal Arain, Qasim Ali, Shahzad Ali, Azam Wazir Khan, Sher Mohammad Mugheri, Zain Malik, Mohammad Iqbal Khan Noori, Nimr Majid and Mustafa Zulqernain absconders.

Just two days before the day of polling, Mr Zardari’s sister MPA Talpur had been granted bail by a lower court against a surety bond of Rs2 million and submission of her passport. On Aug 15, FIA officials arrested Anwar Majeed, said to be a close aide of Mr Zardari, and his sons on the Supreme Court premises after they appeared before it in the case.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2018