Zardari petitions SC for transfer of cases to Karachi

Published November 4, 2020
Former president Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday moved separate petitions before the Supreme Court, seeking transfer of four corruption references against him from the Islamabad Accounta­bility Court to any other accountability court in Karachi. — DawnNewsTV/File
Former president Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday moved separate petitions before the Supreme Court, seeking transfer of four corruption references against him from the Islamabad Accounta­bility Court to any other accountability court in Karachi. — DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: Former president Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday moved separate petitions before the Supreme Court, seeking transfer of four corruption references against him from the Islamabad Accounta­bility Court to any other accountability court in Karachi.

The four cases are: fake bank accounts reference, Park Lane Estate Private Ltd reference, Thatta Water Supply reference and Toshakhana corruption reference.

The former president has been indicted by the anti-graft court in the Toshakhana (gift repository) reference on Sept 9 as well as on the charges of money laundering for allegedly creating benami properties through Park Lane Estate Pvt Ltd on Aug 10, Thatta Water Supply reference on Oct 5. His indictment in the fake bank accounts case has been deferred.

Filed by senior counsel Senator Farooq H. Naek, the petitions have named National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Javed Iqbal, the Islamabad Accountability Court’s presiding officer, former prime ministers Yousuf Raza Gilani and Nawaz Sharif, Abdul Ghani Majeed, former CEO of Summit Bank Hussain Lawai as respondents.

Mr Zardari served as 11th president of Pakistan from 2008 to 2013. Currently, he is a member of the National Assembly since August 2018. The petition regretted that Mr Zardari has always been subjected to political victimisation and mudslinging by implicating him in many “false and fabricated” cases.

Time and again, the petitioner had been made the target of political vendetta and vengeance and kept in jail for years in “false and politically-motivated” cases.

The petition highlighted that the former president had been acquitted in all “fabricated and concocted” cases made against him highlighting that the reference had arisen out of inquiries initiated by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) regarding fake/benami accounts connected with different individuals and entities.

Another inquiry was initiated on receipt of Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) from Financial Monitoring Units (FMU) of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the petition said, adding an investigation team headed by Dr Najaf Quli Mirza, Additional Director General, FIA, was constituted to investigate the matter.

The petition submitted that without prejudice to the rights and remedies available to the applicant and without touching the merits, the applicant who was an elderly person and suffering from several ailments, including cardiac disease, was being made to suffer by the trial of several references.

Despite the fact that all the accused persons and documents are from Karachi and the subject matter of the references are related to Sindh, the references against Mr Zardari have been transferred to Islamabad.

Aggrieved and dissatisfied with the proceedings being conducted in Islamabad to inconvenience of the petitioner and against the interest of justice, the petitioner prefers this instant application, inter alia, Mr Zardari pleaded in the petitions.

Mr Zardari is suffering from several ailments and he is currently on medical bail. The references are causing great discomfort to him, the petition said. The 65-year-old former president is suffering from different ailments, including cardiovascular disease.

On Oct 10, Mr Zardari’s medical condition deteriorated and on the advice of his doctors he was admitted to Ziauddin Hospital, Karachi. Since then he is admitted in the hospital where his medical condition is under constant supervision by doctors who have advised him to take proper care and precautions.

He has been advised not to travel. But, he travelled recently to attend hearings pursuant to the orders passed by the Islamabad Accountability Court, the petition argued.

Hundreds of cases are being tried before NAB courts in Karachi, but the trial of Mr Zardari in Islamabad shows complete biasness towards him.

The transfer of the references against Mr Zardari to Karachi would be in harmony with Article 25 of the Constitution, the petitions said.

Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2020

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