Appears in accountability court in person for hearing
Former president Asif Ali Zardari appeared on Monday before an accountability court in the Toshakhana reference. The court decided to indict the suspects on September 9.
Zardari, the PPP co-chairperson, appeared in person despite being ill, said PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira. Zardari’s last several court appearances have been made via video call.
Over 1,000 policemen were deployed outside the Rawalpindi accountability court on Monday ahead of Zardari’s appearance. PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Aseefa Bhutto Zardari both accompanied their father.
Bilawal asked people not to crowd the courtroom as the threat of the coronavirus is still present.
Zardari was asked to deposit a surety of Rs2 million to ensure his presence at the next hearing. Anwar Majeed and his son Abdul Ghani Majeed were also directed to deposit sureties.
Former premier Nawaz Sharif submitted a petition for Monday’s hearing to be adjourned, which was accepted. The court said it would not pass any orders relating to the PML-N founder. No order will be passed against him till August 25, the court said, adding that by then the high court order will also be issued.
Nawaz had challenged his summons in the case in the Islamabad High Court, citing that he is abroad on bail and not an absconder.
Zardari’s lawyer Farooq H Naek complained to the judge about the attitude and behaviour of the police stationed outside the court. Other lawyers present in court seconded him and said the court should take notice of this.
When NAB prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar said he was with the lawyers on this, they protested and said he was definitely not on their side. In response, Muzaffar told the lawyers to shut up.
Speaking to the media outside the court, Bilawal raised the issue of lawyers being harassed by the police. Does this happen in a free state, he asked. What are you trying to hide from these Supreme Court lawyers, he asked, questioning whether the heavy police presence was an attempt to pressure the judge, the lawyers, or Zardari.
NAB has accused former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani of illegally allotted cars to Nawaz and Zardari.
The accountability watchdog stated that Zardari and Nawaz obtained cars from the Toshakhana by paying only 15% of the price of the luxury vehicles.
It also alleged that Gillani had facilitated the allotment of the vehicles to Zardari and Nawaz by illegally relaxing the rules.
According to the reference, Zardari had received armoured vehicles as gift from the UAE and Libya between 2005 and 2008 but didn’t report the report the gifts or deposit them.
The Toshakhana is an official treasury where gifts from foreign dignitaries or heads of state are deposited. Two former prime ministers, Nawaz and Gilani, have also been nominated in the reference. Gilani, however, has been granted an exemption from appearing for the case hearings.