Former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur are not suspects and the court did not order the inclusion of their names in the Exit Control List, said Chief Justice Saqib Nisar.
Security at the Supreme Court had been stepped up as the former president and his sister were expected to appear in a money-laundering case on Thursday. Zardari’s legal team advised him to not appear in person. Farooq H Naik represented Zardari and Talpur.
“We did not order the inclusion of the names of Zardari and his sister in the ECL,” said the CJ. He said that the court had only ordered the inclusion of the suspects’ names.
“We will not pass any order that violates anyone’s rights,” he said.
The court rejected the appeal of Zardari’s lawyer to replace Najaf Mirza, who is the head of the FIA team investigation the money-laundering scam. The CJ said that he cannot be replaced for now.
The court wants to have fake bank accounts investigated, said the CJ. He asked if Zardari knew who was responsible for laundering billions of rupees. “He should tell us their names if he knows them,” he remarked.
On July 9, the Supreme Court had summoned Zardari, his sister and others in a case relating to a Rs35 billion money-laundering scam. In a suo motu notice, the court had ordered them, along with others, to appear before it on July 12. The interior ministry directed on July 9 officials at airports across the country to bar Zardari and his sister from travelling abroad.
The Supreme Court took notice of the FIA’s investigation into the money-laundering case involving 29 fake accounts at three banks, allegedly set up to funnel stolen money and kickbacks. The vice-chairperson of Summit Bank, Hussain Lawai, who is also Zardari’s close aide, has already been arrested in the case. Apart from Lawai, Anwar Majeed, Talha Raza, Abdul Ghani Majeed, Aslam Masood, Arif Khan, Noorain Sultan, Kiran Aman and Adeel Shah Rashidi have also been implicated in the case.
Zardari, who is also the PPP’s co-chairperson, denies his involvement in the scam.
“This is the time for elections, not accountability,” he said. “Hussain Lawai is being subjected to torture. I reject all these allegations against me. I faced cases in the past and will do so again.”
(This is a developing story and is being updated accordingly)