Zardari urges court to allow his video link attendance in Toshakhana reference

Updated 13 Aug 2020

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He said doctors had advised him not to travel from his hometown. Subsequently, he requested the court to make arrangements for marking his attendance through video link. — Online/File
He said doctors had advised him not to travel from his hometown. Subsequently, he requested the court to make arrangements for marking his attendance through video link. — Online/File

ISLAMABAD: Former president Asif Ali Zardari has requested the accountability court of Islamabad to direct the authorities concerned for making video link arrangements to ensure his presence in the Toshakhana reference proceedings considering his old age, ailment and vulnerability to coronavirus.

In an application filed before the court on Wednesday, the former president said doctors had advised him not to travel from his hometown. Subsequently, he requested the court to make arrangements for marking his attendance through video link.

The accountability court, initiating the proceedings last month, had declared former prime minister Nawaz Sharif a proclaimed offender and issued bailable arrest warrants for the ex-president because of their absence from the legal proceedings in the reference related to getting luxury vehicles and gifts.

The court is scheduled to resume proceedings in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) reference on August 17.

Accountability court to resume proceedings on 17th

According to the NAB reference, former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani had allegedly illegally allotted cars to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Mian Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari. Ex-PM Gillani, Khawaja Anwar Majeed and Khawaja Abdul Ghani Majeed, the owners of the Omni Group, were also nominated as accused in the reference.

The anti-graft watchdog stated that Mr Zardari and Mr Sharif obtained cars from the Toshakhana by paying only 15 per cent of the price of the luxury vehicles. The bureau alleged that ex-PM Gillani facilitated the allotment of the vehicles to Mr Zardari and Mr Nawaz by dishonestly and illegally relaxing the procedure for the acceptance and disposal of gifts vide a cabinet division memorandum of 2007.

The NAB reference further stated that the former president had 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. He was obligated to immediately report and deposit the vehicles with Toshakhana of the cabinet division, but he neither reported the gifted vehicles nor deposited the same.

According to the NAB, former premier Nawaz Sharif, who did not hold any public office in the year 2008, dishonestly and illegally obtained relaxation for his benefits of procedure for the vide cabinet division memorandum from April to December 2008 without giving any application or request to then prime minister Gillani. The memorandum (No.9/8/2004-TK dated June 25, 2007) expressly stipulates that vehicles shall not be allowed to be purchased by the recipients and be given to the central pool of cars of the cabinet division.

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2020