Court issues bailable arrest warrant for Asif Zardari in Toshakhana case

Zardari indicted in corruption case

Abdullah Momand

ISLAMABAD: An Accou-ntability Court in Islam-abad on Monday indicted former president Asif Ali Zardari in the Park Lane reference through video link, As per accountability court directions Zardari ap-peared before the court for hearing via video link from Bilawal House Karachi.

In the case other suspects in the case also attended proceedings of the case via video link. Zardari told the court that his lawyer, Naek, was busy in court hence he could not be indicted today.

The accountability court judge said that Zardari’s lawyer could have sent his subordinate lawyer to attend the hearing.

“These are just two simple sentences in English, you can listen to them and answer,” remarked the judge.

Zardari requested the judge to include in his order that the charges were framed against him whilst his lawyer was not present in court.

In response the judge replied “Charges are always framed against the suspect. If his or her lawyer does not present himself before the court, we cannot force the lawyer to do so.”

The judge then proceeded to read out the charges against Zardari.

The former president pleaded not guilty to the charges.

According to the charge sheet, Zardari allegedly influenced the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) during holding president office to grant Rs1.5 billion loan to Parthenon, a frontline company of Park Lane. Zardari had been the director of Park Lane company and made a fraudulent plan to embezzle the amount. The looted money was then sent to the fake accounts.

In response, Former president Asif Ali Zardari denied the charges and adopted the stance that the cases were prepared to politically pressurize him in line of 18th Amendment in Constitution. His trial, he said, should be transparent and fair.

To this, the judge remarked that this court works on principles and laws, adding that everyone was equal in eyes of law.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari requested the court to note in its orders that the charges were framed against him in absence of his lawyer.

After the indictment, the court summoned three witnesses including Ahsan Aslam, Nabeel Zahoor and Abdul Kabir along with relevant record to testify on next hearing.

A few days ago, the accountability had rejected the former president’s petitions and directed that the PPP leader be indicted on August 10.

The former president’s indictment was postponed due to various petitions filed by his lawyer against the reference.

In June, Zardari’s lawyer had moved a petition challenging the accountability court’s jurisdiction to hear the Park Lane reference. Zardari’s lawyer Farook H Naek had requested the court to decide the petition before the trial began.

NAB’s Deputy Prosecutor Muzaffar had opposed the petition and requested the court to dismiss it as being baseless.

According to the detail, a Karachi-based private company, Park Lane Estate Pvt Ltd, had purchased almost 2,500 kanals of land near Sangjani from Faisal Sakhi Butt, who himself purchased the land from a Pakistani American living in Houston, Texas in the USA, named Muhammad Nasir Khan, for merely Rs 62 million.

Nasir Khan was the original purchaser of this land in 1994 and was alleged by NAB in 1997 to be Zardari’s frontman in the Ehtesab Bureau reference filed against him in 1997.

However, all the legal requirements were met and followed in the purchase and transfer of this land from one man to another and then to Park Lane Estate Pvt Ltd, which was a Karachi-based company.

According to the Form-A Annual Return of the company, its share capital, as reflected in the SECP record then, showed it had 120,000 shares of which Zardari and Bilawal own 30,000 shares each.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari was shown as a director and his son was a member with four others who appear as members and debenture holders.

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