ISLAMABAD: The Accountability Court-III of Islamabad on Tuesday issued a bailable arrest warrant for former president Asif Ali Zardari and initiated proceedings for proclamation of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif as an absconder in the Toshakhana case related to getting luxury vehicles gifted by foreign countries.

According to the reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau, former PM Yosuf Raza Gilani have been blamed for illegally allotted cars to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Zardari and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Sharif.

Mr Gilani, Khawaja Anwar Majeed and Khawaja Abdul Ghani Majeed, the owners of the Omni Group, have also been nominated as accused in the reference.

NAB Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Khan Abbasi produced a report on the serving of summons to Mr Sharif before the court.

Initiates proceedings for proclamation of Sharif as absconder in Toshakhana case

He told the court that the summons had been served to Mr Sharif through the Pakistani High Commission in the United Kingdom.

The judge remarked that prima facie, Mr Sharif was deliberately avoiding joining the court’s proceedings, therefore, he might be summoned through a proclamation and in case he still remained at large, the court might declare him a proclaimed offender.

Advocate Farooq H. Naek submitted an application seeking exemption of Mr Zardari from personal hearing. He requested the court to exempt the former president from personal attendance as because of his old age he was vulnerable to be infected with coronavirus.

The court, however, rejected the plea and issued a bailable warrant for Mr Zardari. Further proceeding in this matter has been adjourned till August 17.

The reference states that Mr Zardari and Mr Sharif obtained cars from the Toshakhana by paying 15 per cent of the price of the vehicles and were facilitated by former premier Gilani in this regard. According to the reference, Mr Gilani dishonestly and illegally relaxed the procedure for the acceptance and disposal of gifts, determined by the government vide Cabinet Division’s memorandum No.9/8/2004-TK dated June 25, 2007 which expressly stipulates that such vehicles would not be allowed to be purchased by the recipients and would be given to the central pool of care of the Cabinet Division.

The reference further states that Mr Zardari obtai­ned the following armoured vehicles given as gift by the United Arab Emirates (BMW 750 Li model 2005, Lexus Jeep model 2007) and by Libya (BMW 760 Li model 2008) in September-October 2008. He was obligated to report and deposit the vehicles at Toshakhana of Cabinet Division but he neither reported the gifted vehicles nor deposited them at Toshakhana.

The NAB reference says that Mr Sharif did not hold any public office in 2008 yet from April to December 2008, without receiving from him any request, then prime minister Gilani dishonestly and illegally obtained relaxation for his benefit.

Published in Dawn, July 1st, 2020