ISLAMABAD: Former president Asif Ali Zardari, who is under detention on charges of money laundering and presently undergoing treatment at a hospital, has agreed to file a bail petition on medical grounds at the insistence of his family members. His lawyers are expected to move the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday (today) for his bail.
This was announced by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari during a brief news conference after meeting his ailing father Asif Zardari at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) here on Monday.
The PPP chairman also announced that the party had decided to hold a major event on the 12th death anniversary of his mother and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto at Rawalpindi’s historic Liaquat Bagh — the place where she was assassinated in a gun-and-bomb attack on Dec 27, 2007.
Previously, the PPP had a tradition of holding gatherings on the occasions of birth and death anniversaries of the party leaders at Garhi Khuda Bakhsh in Larkana, Sindh.
Bilawal announces holding Benazir’s 12th death anniversary event at Liaquat Bagh — the place where she was assassinated
“A clear message will once again come from Liaquat Bagh for whole Pakistan and the world that as per the PPP’s belief, all powers belong to the people,” Mr Bhutto-Zardari said.
Accompanied by his sisters Bakhtawar and Aseefa, the PPP chairman expressed concern over the deteriorating health of his father and said the doctors had suggested a “cardiovascular procedure” to trace blockade. “There are two procedures and we want that as soon as possible these procedures are carried out and Mr Zardari gets the treatment,” he said.
“(Former) president Zardari had stopped us from filing the bail petition which was a difficult situation for us, my sisters and the whole family. Now he has accepted Aseefa’s request and, Insha Allah, the PPP will apply for the bail on medical grounds after finalising it tomorrow (Tuesday),” he added.
He said the doctors at PIMS must be competent, but he and his family did not have trust in them and they would feel satisfaction after getting a “second opinion”.
On July 29, the PPP chairman, after attending the accountability court proceedings against Mr Zardari, had told reporters that his father had decided not to seek any relief in the form of post-arrest bail and was ready to remain behind bars for an indefinite period rather than compromising on the 18th Amendment, the parliamentary system and media freedom.
Mr Zardari was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) after cancellation of his pre-arrest bail by the IHC in the fake bank accounts case on June 10.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari said his father was firm on the party’s stance and manifesto and no compromise would be made on the 18th Amendment, democracy and media freedom.
Responding to a question about the party’s possible stance on the bill to be moved by the government in parliament on the army chief’s extension, he said his party was waiting for a detailed judgement of the Supreme Court, anticipating that the court would provide some guidelines for parliament as it did in the 18th Amendment case.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari said that in the opinion of the lawyers belonging to the PPP and different bars a constitutional amendment would be needed for this purpose. “The PPP’s role will be positive and we will want a consensus to be there. However, I would also like to add that it seems that our prime minister [Imran Khan], like before, does not want a consensus just like he couldn’t reach one regarding Kashmir, economy, democracy and governance,” he added.
The PPP chairman said the reaction given by the prime minister after the Supreme Court’s verdict made it apparently clear that “he [the PM] wants to antagonise the opposition”. He said his party had no hope that the government would be able to develop a consensus on the issue, adding that a government which couldn’t even draft a notification in three months and was not able to pass any legislation in 15 months would not be able to do so in six months given by the apex court.
“This will be the biggest test of Imran Khan’s government and from his actions and traditions that he is non-serious, it seems to me that he has made a negative impact on our institutions,” he added.
The PPP chairman concluded his presser by saying in response to a question that “the way PM Imran Khan is behaving, I think, we will first have a new prime minister and then a constitutional amendment”.
Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2019