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Bilawal lashes out at NAB, govt over aunt’s arrest

Updated June 15, 2019

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ISLAMABAD: Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari leaving on Friday the residence of Faryal Talpur, which has been declared a sub-jail.—Online
ISLAMABAD: Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari leaving on Friday the residence of Faryal Talpur, which has been declared a sub-jail.—Online

ISLAMABAD: Four days after the arrest of former president Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur was nabbed by the National Acc­ountability Bureau (NAB) here on Friday in connection with a case pertaining to money laundering thro­ugh fake bank accounts.

Ms Talpur, a senior leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party, was not taken to NAB jail as Zardari House was notified as sub-jail and she will be detained there till the order of the accountability court where she is likely to be produced on Saturday (today).

According to a senior NAB official, who did not want to be named, Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani has issued production order for Ms Faryal, who is also a member of the provincial assembly. There­fore, after seeking her remand from the accountability court on Saturday, she will be taken to Karachi and most probably kept at her own residence under house arrest.

PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari termed the arrests of his father Asif Zardari and aunt Faryal Talpur ‘pre-planned’ to divert attention of the people from the recently announced federal budget for 2019-20 which he called an “economic terrorism”.

According to NAB, a five-member team, including female investigators, raided Zardari House and arrested the accused under the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.

Interestingly, a team of the anti-graft watchdog also visited Zardari House on Thursday late night and, according to PPP leaders, the NAB officials said they had not come to arrest Ms Talpur but were searching for someone else.

Later, speaking at a press conference, Mr Bhutto-Zardari claimed that the PPP could topple the government anytime if it [PPP] wanted, but wanted the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) to complete its five-year term.

He said the government was bent upon filthy tactics and political victimisation even against women opposition leaders. “The ruling party leaders should realise that they also have daughters and sisters,” he added.

Responding to a question about the opposition’s movement and mass contact campaign against the government, the PPP chairman said he could foresight ‘anarchy’ in the country due to ‘economic massacre’ of the people. “There is no doubt that people of the country will take to the streets as they have been badly affected by faulty economic policies and unprecedented price hike. But if you detain their leaders, the mob becomes unruly and it always becomes difficult to control them,” he warned.

The PPP chairman said his party had contacts with other opposition parties and they would continue struggle for the sake of democracy in the country. “The solution of all problems is hidden in democracy,” he added.

He said the PPP had already lost its leaders, including Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto, for the sake of democracy and, therefore, he too was not afraid of any consequences. “We are not like Khan [prime minister] who had left behind his workers at D-Chowk Islamabad when police had taken action against PTI protesters,” he added.

In reply to a question about NAB cases against him and other PPP leaders, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said former chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar had declared him innocent because if NAB proceeded according to the law it would get nothing against him. “But everybody knows that no law is being followed in the cases opened against opposition leaders,” he added.

He said it was not a coincident that Mr Zardari was arrested the same day when the economic survey was presented. “The arrest of PPP leaders is an attempt to divert people’s attention from faulty budget. But the government cannot make people fool by painting a rosy picture about the budget because their stomachs are empty,” he added.

Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2019