Court summons Zardari in water supply case on Aug 4

Updated 15 Jul 2020

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Former president Asif Ali Zardari’s indictment in Park Lane reference again deferred. — Online/File
Former president Asif Ali Zardari’s indictment in Park Lane reference again deferred. — Online/File

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court of Islamabad on Tuesday directed Asif Ali Zardari to appear before it on Aug 4 in the Thatta Water Supply reference, but again deferred the matter of indicting the former president in the Park Lane reference till July 21.

The other accused asked to appear before the court in the Thatta Water Supply case include Nadeem Bhutto and Abdul Ghani Majeed.

Mr Zardari is also facing another reference relating to a luxury vehicle he received from Toshakhana of the federal government. Former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani are other accused in this case.

Mr Zardari was supposed to be indicted in the Park Lane case on Tuesday, but the court deferred the matter till July 21.

Former president’s indictment in Park Lane reference again deferred

Advocate Farooq H. Naek, the counsel for Mr Zardari, argued during the hearing that the former president was a director of M/s Park Lane, but resigned from the company in 2008 before assuming the office of the president of Pakistan.

He said the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had overlooked all financial laws while filing the reference against his client.

He argued that NAB could not have proceeded in the case without the mandatory approval/reference of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) against Mr Zardari.

Prima facie, he said, it was a case of willful default and the SBP was the competent forum to initiate proceedings against his client, but NAB took over the case, started a solo flight and proceeded in the matter on its own in violation of relevant financial laws. He pointed out that on Oct 30, 2009 when M/s Parthenon Private Limited secured the loan, Mr Zardari was not the director of the company, but was just a shareholder of M/s Park Lane.

He said the board of directors of the company had accepted the resignation of Mr Zardari, but it could not communicate the matter to the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan in time.

When the judge inquired as to why M/s Park Lane mortgaged its properties when M/s Parthenon was securing the loan, Mr Naek replied that they were in a sort of partnership and the former had offered a plot to the latter for construction of a building, a joint venture.

He said the credit committee of the National Bank of Pakistan had approved the loan for M/s Parthenon, but NAB did not implicate even a single official of NBP in the reference, adding that those who might be an accused in the case had been listed as prosecution witnesses.

Published in Dawn, July 15th, 2020