An accountability court in Islamabad on Saturday granted President Asif Ali Zardari immunity from criminal proceedings in two cases of the National Accountability Court (NAB).

According to the court order, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, since Zardari was elected to the president’s office this year, no criminal proceedings can be launched against him and any proceedings already underway have been stayed or paused.

The president had last month petitioned the court under Section 248(2) of the Constitution, which states that no criminal proceedings can be launched or continued against a sitting president or governor.

The prosecutor “did not contest the petition”, concurring with its contents and raising no objections.

Zardari filed for immunity under Article 248 of the Cons­titution, aiming to stop the ongoing criminal proceedings against him in the Islamabad Accountability Court pertaining to the Thatta Water Supply Pro­ject and Park Lane cases.

The NAB prosecution had alleged that Zardari, during his previous tenure as president, influenced the relevant authorities to get loans released to his front companies, including Park Lane.

President Zardari, according to NAB, got a loan of Rs1.5 billion released to his front company Parthenon Private Limited with ill intention and the money was later transferred for his personal use through fake bank accounts.

The water supply reference pertains to alleged illegal award of a contract by the special initiative department for water supply scheme, Thatta, to private contractor Harish & Co.

Zardari also extended the immunity claim to two other cases concerning Toshakhana vehicles and fake bank accounts, his lead counsel, Senator Farooq H. Naek, had told Dawn.

In a written reply submitted to the accountability court in the Toshakhana vehicle reference in April, NAB prosecutors stated that President Zardari enjoys constitutional immunity.

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