ISLAMABAD: The Accountability Court of Islamabad on Friday issued bailable arrest warrants for former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader Nawaz Sharif because of his absence in the proceedings of a reference that accused him, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari and ex-PM Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani of receiving luxury vehicles and gifts from Toshakhana.
The reference was filed before the court on March 2. Accountability Judge Syed Asghar Ali on May 15 issued summons for Mr Sharif, Mr Zardari, Mr Gillani, Khawaja Anwar Majeed and Abdul Ghani Majeed, owners of the Omni Group, nominated as accused in the reference.
Zardari, Gillani among those summoned in case of receiving luxury vehicles and gifts from Toshakhana
According to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) reference, Mr Gillani had been accused of illegally allotting cars to Mr Zardari and Mr Sharif.
During Friday’s hearing, Mr Gillani and Ghani Majeed appeared before the court, while Mr Sharif and Mr Zardari were absent.
NAB’s deputy prosecutor general Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi requested the court to issue arrest warrants for Mr Gillani and Mr Majeed although they had joined the court’s proceedings.
The bureau also requested the court to issue non-bailable arrest warrants for Mr Sharif and Mr Zardari for being absent during the proceedings.
The counsel for Mr Zardari informed the court that he was admitted to a hospital. The counsel also filed an application seeking exemption of Mr Zardari for Friday’s proceeding.
Since Mr Sharif has already gone abroad and no one appeared on his behalf to seek exemption from personal attendance, the judge issued bailable warrants for his arrest.
The court was told that Anwar Majeed was also admitted to a hospital and he did not receive summons issued on May 15. His counsel told the court that because of his ailment Mr Majeed could not travel to Islamabad to attend the proceedings.
The court directed all the accused persons, including Mr Sharif and Mr Zardari, to ensure attendance on the next date of proceedings, June 11.
The defence counsel said that since the NAB chairman did not invoke his power to issue warrants, the NAB prosecutor could not request the court to issue warrants for the accused persons.
The reference states that Mr Zardari and Mr Sharif obtained cars from Toshakhana by paying 15 per cent of the price of the cars. The bureau further alleged that Mr Gillani facilitated Mr Zardari and Mr Nawaz in this regard. He dishonestly and illegally relaxed the procedure for the acceptance and disposal of gifts, issued by the government of Pakistan vide Cabinet Division’s Memorandum No.9/8/2004-TK dated June 25, 2007, which expressly stipulates that vehicles shall not be allowed to be purchased by the recipients and be given to the central pool care of the Cabinet Division.
The reference further states that Mr Zardari accepted and received the armoured vehicles as gift from the United Arab Emirates (BMW750 Li model 2005, Lexus Jeep model 2007) and from Libya (BMW 760 Li model 2008) in September-October 2008. It was obligated to immediately report and deposit the vehicles with Toshakhana of Cabinet Division but he neither reported the gifted vehicles nor despoiled the same.
Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2020