Political engineering is still very common in Pakistan even in 2019, said PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari during an explosive press conference on Wednesday.
“Just look at the benami accounts case. It is nothing but political engineering,” he said. “What was the purpose of taking a suo motu notice of the case during elections?”
He remarked that an FIR was registered in the case and the banking court was hearing it. “How can you say that the case was slacking?”
The PPP scion questioned if there is no slack in the murder cases of Benazir Bhutto and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and Asghar Khan case. “These cases are not slacking, but the fake accounts case was?”
He remarked that a bad precedent was set by making the ISI a part of the joint investigating team in the fake accounts case. “It politicises the ISI and judiciary. It militarises the judiciary,” he added.
In September last year, the Supreme Court formed a joint investigation team to probe the money laundering case involving Rs35 billion funneled through fake bank accounts at three local banks.
Additional Director-General of the FIA Ehsan Sadiq headed the team. The other five members were Tax Commissioner Imran Lateef, State Bank’s Majid Hussain, ISI’s Brigadier Shahid Pervaiz, NAB’s Noman Aslam and SECP’s Muhammad Afzal.
The team submitted a report in which it named 172 people, including former president Asif Ali Zardari, his sister MNA Faryal Talpur and son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Sindh Excise Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla, former Sindh chief minister Qaim Ali Shah, former Sindh home minister Sohail Anwar Siyal, Sindh Energy Minister Imtiaz Sheikh and Ali Nawaz Mehar, a former minister of state for industries
We have a right to free and fair trial, Bilawal Zardari said. “Not even once were Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah or I given the chance to defend our stance before any court.” The system cannot work like this, he said.
The Supreme Court’s decision to shift the case to Rawalpindi is an obvious violation of the concept of jurisdiction. The case is of Sindh, the FIR was registered in Sindh, the bank accounts are in Sindh. “Why should the case be shifted to Rawalpindi?”
He remarked that he was treated “unfairly” in the case. “I have been dragged in this case for political engineering.”
The chief justice summoned the ISI member of the investigating team and asked him why Bilawal’s name was included in the case. “I still don’t have the answer to that.”
The chief justice read out the court order in which he said that Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is innocent. He said that my name should be expunged from the ECL. “When the written order came, these statements had disappeared from it. Maybe because someone else wrote it,” he added.
Democracy cannot strengthen till our courts are free to give their own verdicts, he remarked.
“Whenever a dictator came into power, he was given a clean chit by the courts,” the PPP chief said. We can’t give the impression that courts support political engineering, he said. “It is unthinkable that courts would go against the 18th Amendment.”
Justice should not only be done, but seen to be done too, he added.
Agha Siraj Durrani’s arrest
He remarked that NAB should not be used for political engineering either. “The institution was formed for political engineering. I know it is a black law. Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto said in her charter of democracy manifesto that we have to take down NAB,” he said.
It is our failing that we couldn’t finish NAB. “Even if we bring reforms to it, it will still be used for political victimisation and revenge.”
He criticised NAB over the arrest of Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani.
“The speaker of the assembly in a constitutional position, not a party position,” he said. “It holds a lot of value.” His arrest is a “sad attack” on the post.
“The institution made by [former president] Pervez Musharraf arrested him from Islamabad. It is his second term as the speakers of the Sindh Assembly. His father has served as the speaker too,” he said.
“I condemn this in the strongest possible words,” Bilawal Zardari remarked. “NAB’s assets beyond means allegation is exactly like the police tampering with evidence to prove someone guilty,” he claimed.
He was arrested and then his house was raided. This shows that there was no evidence against him or that evidence was being planted, he said.