PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari pictured with daughter Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari on Thursday.
PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari pictured with daughter Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari on Thursday.

ISLAMABAD: The Accountability Court of Islamabad on Thursday dismissed a plea seeking former president Asif Ali Zardari’s acquittal in the Rs8 billion suspicious transaction reference under the recently promulgated accountability ordinance.

Judge Azam Khan termed the Peoples Party leader’s application non-maintainable and decided to indict him on Oct 28.

The counsel for Mr Zardari, Farooq H. Naek, was seeking the acquittal under the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 2021 that restricted the jurisdiction of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in financial- and governance-related matters.

Mr Naek contended that the court could not frame charges against Mr Zardari since it does not fall within the ambit of the anti-graft body after the promulgation of the ordinance.

NAB says PPP leader could not prove he purchased Clifton house through legal means

He argued NAB had never said in the reference that any loss had been caused to the national exchequer. He said Mr Zardari had nothing to do with the transactions, adding that the former president was neither accused of misuse of authority nor did he get any pecuniary benefits.

NAB’s prosecutor, on the other hand, said the bureau could respond to these contentions if the court admitted this application for hearing and put NAB on notice.

The judge, however, dismissed the application and adjourned further proceeding till Oct 28.

According to the NAB reference, Mr Zardari built his palatial house in Clifton with ill-gotten money as he could not provide proof of his claim that he had purchased the house through legal means. The reference said Mr Mushtaq, who worked as a government employee in the President House from 2009 to 2013, had allegedly provided Rs150 million for the construction. An illegal transaction of Rs8.3bn was carried out through a bank account of Mr Mushtaq and the money was paid to Bahria Town.

Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2021

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