ISLAMABAD: An accountability court here on Monday indicted former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur in the mega money laundering reference, an offshoot of the fake accounts case.

The court, however, deferred the indictment of Mr Zardari in the Park Lane and Thatta Water Supply references till Oct 5.

The court also issued non-bailable arrest warrants for the accused, Sher Ali, and directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to produce Sadiq Sulemani on the next date of hearing in the Park Lane and Thatta Water Supply references.

Judge Azam Khan read out charges against the accused in the mega money laundering case. The other accused, Hussain Lawai and Khawaja Anwar Majeed, who are under custody, attended the proceedings through video link while Mustafa Majeed, Salman Younis, Imran Khan, Mohammad Aurangzeb and Bilal Sheikh were present in the courtroom.

The accused pleaded not guilty.

Bilawal terms it political victimisation; ex-president says NAB stands exposed

Reacting to the indictment, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, in a tweet, termed it political victimisation of the opposition.

“Victimisation of opposition continues during global pandemic. 2 yrs of Court appearances; ECL & Jail, President Zardari & Faryal Talpur continue to face courts. Runaway Dictator traitor, 3 special assistants, ministers & PMs sister won’t be summoned because we have two laws in Pakistan,” he tweeted.

Asif Ali Zardari and Faryal Talpur were being investigated as part of a corruption case relating to fake accounts and fictitious bank transactions amounting to Rs35 billion.

The siblings are alleged to have illegally channelled funds through these accounts in connivance with the CEOs of major banks.

The case was initially registered in 2015 against former Pakistan Stock Exchange chairman Hussain Lawai, a close aide to former president Asif Ali Zardari. Later, seven people, including Mr Zardari and Ms Talpur, were found involved in using the accounts for suspicious transactions.

Initially, the case was filed in the banking court of Karachi but it was later shifted to Islamabad on the directions of the then chief justice of Pakistan, Saqib Nisar.

After the accused denied these charges, the judge directed NAB to produce evidence to prove the allegations.

The court summoned three witnesses and adjourned the hearing till Oct 13.

Talking to media after the court proceeding, Mr Zardari said the government would have to go home if the public took to the streets.

He said Imran Khan could not hide himself behind his facilitators and condemned the arrest of PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif.

Criticising the accountability process, the former president said NAB stood exposed before everyone.

He expressed the possibility of more arrests in the coming days, saying it was obvious under prevailing circumstances.

Mr Zardari showed his concern over the deteriorating economical condition and said the government was sending a bad signal to the international community.

Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2020