Production orders issued for Asif Ali Zardari, Khawaja Saad Rafique

Updated June 19, 2019

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Former president Asif Ali Zardari will attend the ongoing NA session. ─ AP/File
Former president Asif Ali Zardari will attend the ongoing NA session. ─ AP/File

The National Assembly Secretariat on Wednesday issued a production order each for PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N MNA Khawaja Saad Rafique, both of whom are being probed for corruption by National Accountability Bureau in separate cases.

Zardari and Saad Rafique are expected to attend the NA sitting on Thursday (today).

Zardari had been taken into custody by NAB on June 10 after cancellation of his pre-arrest bail in the fake accounts case. Zardari's sister, Faryal Talpur, was taken into NAB custody on June 14. Both PPP leaders are currently on remand.

Saad Rafique, along with his brother, Khawaja Salman Rafique is currently in judicial custody in connection with a corruption reference filed by NAB earlier this year. On Tuesday, the Lahore High Court rejected bail applications filed by the two brothers.

The issuance of the production order for Zardari was confirmed by senior PPP leader Khurshid Shah.

PML-N’s information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb later told Dawn that the speaker had also issued the production order for the former railways minister and a firebrand leader from Lahore Saad Rafique.

The production orders dated June 19 have been issued for the ongoing NA session that was called on June 10 to discuss the finance bill.

According to the separate orders issued for Zardari and Saad Rafique, NA Speaker Asad Qaiser "considers their presence during the said session necessary".

"In exercise of the powers conferred by Rule 108 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly 2007, the Honourable Speaker has been pleased to summon Asif Ali Zardari, Member, National Assembly to attend the said session at the Parliament House, Islamabad," the order for Zardari states.

"You are therefore directed to produce Mr Asif Ali Zardari, Member, National Assembly at the commencement of each sitting of the National Assembly before the Seargeant-at-Arms at the Parliament House, Islamabad, who shall, after the conclusion of the sittings deliver him into your custody accordingly."

Similarly, the order issued for Khawaja Saad Rafique, containing largely the same text as Zardari's and addressed to the District Camp Jail in Lahore, states that the Seargeant-at-Arms shall deliver Rafique to the custody of the jail superintendent after the conclusion of the parliamentary session.

Copies of the orders signed by additional secretary were sent to the NAB chairman and director general, the interior secretary, the Punjab chief secretary, chief commissioner Islamabad, and the police chiefs of Islamabad and Punjab.

PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who spoke briefly at the start of Wednesday's NA session, had urged the speaker to issue production orders for his father, PML-N's Saad Rafique, and two Waziristan MNAs, Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir.

The speaker had been under pressure over the issue after some members of the ruling coalition had added their voice to the opposition’s.

Speaking on a point of order in the assembly on Tuesday, Aminul Haq of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) had urged the speaker to issue Zardari’s production order in line with parliamentary traditions.

An application submitted to the speaker’s office for the purpose was signed by MNAs belonging to the Balochistan National Party-Mengal, Balochistan Awami Party, Jamhoori Watan Party and the MQM, besides the opposition parties.

In their speeches, the opposition members had criticised the speaker and accused him of taking dictation from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

Earlier in the day, PPP parliamentarians and workers from Rawalpindi and Islamabad had gathered outside the official residence of the speaker at the Ministers Enclave, demanding production orders for Zardari.

Prominent PPP legislators who participated in the protest were Nayyar Bukhari, Sherry Rehman, Shazia Marri, Abdul Qadir Patel, Rubina Khalid, Faisal Karim Kundi, Amir Fida Paracha, Sibte Haider Bukhari and Iftikhar Shahzada.