ISLAMABAD: Former president and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday said he had the ability to interact with power circles without any outside support.
He was talking to journalists after securing pre-arrest interim bail in connection with an investigation into the ownership of a New York apartment. Asked whether he wanted to give any message to ‘selectors’ through the media, Mr Zardari said: “Why should I convey a message through you.”
When asked if there was any direct interaction of the PPP with them, he said: “We are also citizens of Pakistan and we are living in this country.”
The PPP leader said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) was not running the government. He ruled out any ‘upset’ in the upcoming Kashmir elections, saying the result would be as per the set tradition.
It may be mentioned that traditionally the government at the Centre forms the government in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
In response to a question that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was allowed to go abroad for medical treatment while he is being treated differently, Mr Zardari said that “his [Mr Sharif’s] domicile is better than my domicile”. He said he was being discriminated against because he belonged to Sindh, and not Punjab.
Earlier, Mr Zardari reached the Islamabad High Court in an ambulance. Since the ambulance was not allowed to enter the premises, he walked to the courtroom of the IHC chief justice.
Mr Zardari was represented by senior lawyer Farooq H. Naek. Former Punjab governor Latif Khan Khosa and former Senate chairman Syed Nayyer Hussain Bukhari, Farhatullah Babar, Sherry Rehman, Rehman Malik and other leaders of the PPP were present in the courtroom.
An IHC division bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Aamer Farooq allowed pre-arrest interim bail to Mr Zardari till July 28 against Rs0.5 million surety bonds. The proceeding lasted less than half a minute.
On Tuesday, the IHC bench did not entertain his bail petition and declined to grant him even interim bail on the grounds that Mr Zardari was not present in the court.
Justice Minallah had observed that if the court would allow interim bail without personal appearance of Mr Zardari, it would become precedence and every suspect would seek such a relief.
The National Accountability Bureau had on June 15 issued a call-up notice to the former president, asking him to appear before a NAB team on June 24 in connection with investigation into the ownership of an apartment in New York.
The notice served on him at his Islamabad and Karachi residences stated that in addition to Mr Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur and others, who allegedly owned the flat at Belaire, S24 East 72 Street, 37F, Manhattan, New York, USA, were being probed.
“The competent authority has taken cognisance of offences allegedly committed by the subject accused [Mr Zardari and others] under the provision of Section 9 (a) of National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999, and Section 3 of Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010.
“The subject inquiry has revealed that you are in ownership of an apartment at the Belaire…However, this property does not figure out in the disclosure made by you in Pakistan. Moreover, there appears no lawful remittance by you from Pakistan for the acquisition of the said property as well,” the notice stated.
Mr Zardari through his counsel Farooq Naek contended in the petition that the call-up notice was issued at the behest of the PTI government. He termed the call-up notice “baseless” and an attempt to malign him.
The petition rejected NAB’s claim that Mr Zardari was owner of the New York property and stated that the notice was issued to harass him and damage his reputation.
Published in Dawn, July 8th, 2021