ISLAMABAD: Islamabad’s Ac­­­countability Court on Thurs­day ordered former president Asif Ali Zardari to appear before it in connection with corruption charges.

Presiding Judge Mohammad Bashir, who on Wednesday summoned Mr Zardari and other accused in the Thatta Water Supply corruption reference, has now called upon him for the Park Lane case as well.

Advocate Arshad Tabrez, representing Mr Zardari, contested the summons while referring to a recent Supreme Court stay order that halts the final judgement in corruption references.

However, Judge Bashir proceeded with issuing the summons, clarifying that the apex court’s restraining order merely postpones the final verdict, not the proceedings.

The accountability court has scheduled Dec 20 for Mr Zardari to appear, along with Younis Kadwai, Hussain Lawai, Iqbal Khan Nuri, Mohammad Iqbal, Khawaja Anwar Majeed, Abdul Ghani Majeed, M. Farooq Abdullah, and others.

Mr Zardari is accused of being complicit in extending loans and their misappropriation by Par­thenon Private Limited and Park Lane Estate Private Limited, among others.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has charged the former president with using his influence to secure bank loans improperly. The bureau has described the incident as a money laundering case, alleging the illicit transfer of funds abroad.

Meanwhile, the same court has also summoned the suspects in the Rental Power Projects (RPPs) corruption references.

During the hearing, Advocate Tabrez, counsel for former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, appeared before the court.

When the judge asked him to advance arguments on the pending petition for the acquittal of Mr Ashraf and other suspects, Advocate Tabrez replied that since the Supreme Court had restrained trial courts from delivering verdicts, the arguments on acquittal plea would be a futile exercise.

The court then set the next hearing for Dec 14.

Published in Dawn, November 3rd, 2023

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