ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on Monday that his father, former president Asif Ali Zardari, is not seeking post-arrest bail and the PPP will continue to protest against the incumbent government over price hike and excessive taxation.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari and his sister Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari attended the accountability court hearing on Monday to witness proceedings. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) produced Mr Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur, seeking judicial remand for 10 days in the fake accounts case.
Mr Zardari asked the accountability judge, Mohammad Bashir, to extend the remand for 90 days or put off further proceedings till at least after Eidul Azha, which is due in the second week of August.
However, the judge responded that under the law, the court could not extend the remand for more than 14 days and granted 10-day remand of Mr Zardari and his sister to NAB.
Remand of ex-president and his sister Faryal has been extended for 10 days in Park Lane case
After the court’s proceedings, Mr Bhutto-Zardari — while speaking to the media — termed the development unfortunate, with the government politically victimising opponents.
He said that he and his sister had advised Mr Zardari to file a post-arrest bail plea since the evidence against him is weak and he has a good case to seek bail.
He added that Mr Zardari had refused to seek relief and was ready to remain behind bars for an indefinite period rather than compromise on the 18th Amendment, the parliamentary system, and media freedoms.
He said that Mr Zardari had turned the air conditioning in his cell off, and despite requests from family members, was not prepared to avail himself of this facility. “We fought the martial law periods of Ayub Khan, Ziaul Haq and Gen Musharraf, and are ready to take on the puppets,” Mr Bhutto-Zardari further said.
In response to a question on whether the PPP would participate in Maulana Fazalur Rehman’s ‘million man’ march, the PPP leader did not categorically confirm joining the march, saying that the PPP as well as other political parties were staging protest demonstrations against the government and would continue to do so.
Mr Zardari, however, in a brief interaction with the media, said that the PPP will support the said march. He claimed that the countdown for the incumbent regime had begun.
During the court’s proceedings, the accountability judge distributed copies of the Park Lane reference amongst the accused persons.
In the reference, NAB has alleged that the former president misused his authority, causing Rs3.7bn loss to the National Bank of Pakistan. As per the prosecution, the Park Lane land case is being investigated under different sections of the NAO 1999 and the Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010 for Mr Zardari’s alleged involvement in extending loans and subsequent misappropriation by M/s Parthenon Private Limited, M/s Park Lane Estate Private Limited, and others.
The accountability court has summoned Mr Zardari and other persons accused in the Park Lane reference on Aug 19.
Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2019