Zardari tells SC he owns neither any property nor bank account outside Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Former president Asif Ali Zardari affirmed through an affidavit before the Supreme Court on Tuesday that he owns neither moveable or immovable property nor any bank account outside Pakistan.

The affidavit was moved before the apex court which is hearing a petition of Advocate Feroz Shah Gilani, president of the Lawyers Foundation for Justice, in which he had named former presidents retired Gen Pervez Musharraf and Asif Zardari, former attorney general Malik Mohammad Qayyum and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as respondents.

In his petition, Mr Gilani had pleaded before the court to order recovery of huge amounts of public money wasted by the respondents through unlawful means against the backdrop of the National Recon­ciliation Ordinance (NRO) in 2007.

A three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar is expected to take up the case on Wednesday.

On July 4, the apex court had asked for the details of assets of Pervez Musharraf, Asif Zardari and Malik Qayyum in addition to furnishing bank accounts and assets both inside and outside the country as well as investments made in offshore companies.

The parties involved in the matter are also required to disclose before the court the details of assets of their spouses and children both in the country as well as abroad.

Earlier, Mr Zardari in his reply had contended that no case of causing loss to the public exchequer or looting and plundering the national wealth had ever been proved against him in Pakistan or abroad.

Likewise, Mr Zardari claimed that he had no role in the promulgation of the NRO because he was in jail when it was introduced. Cases against him were reopened when the NRO was set aside by the Supreme Court and all the cases were tried de-novo which resulted in his acquittal on merit.

On Aug 8, NAB had told the Supreme Court that $60 million money laundering case against Mr Zardari before the Swiss courts could not be reopened since Pakistan’s appeal was time-barred. NAB also contended that no exact quantum of loss was available allegedly due to misappropriation of public money through unlawful means.

The reply was furnished on behalf of NAB special prosecutor Chaudhry Faridul Hassan.

In its reply, NAB also assured the court that if any determination was made as to the quantum of money misappropriated, the same would be implemented, honoured and adhered in letter and spirit.

NAB had explained that an inquiry was conducted to probe into the role of Malik Qayyum, the outcome of which reflected that prima facie he did not commit any offence or misused his authority.

The bureau, therefore, had to close its inquiry on Sept 17, 2012, against Malik Qayyum when it was found that whatever he did was in accordance with the existing law of the time i.e. the National Accountability Ordinance.

NAB also explained that a number of corruption references against Mr Zardari were still pending in different courts namely ARY Gold case, Ursus Tractor Scheme case, pre-shipment inspection contract to Cotecna firm, pre-shipment inspection contract to SGS firm and assets case.

On the other hand Pervez Musharraf in his reply pleaded that the NRO was promulgated in 2007 without having any mala fide or vested interest with an objective to end acrimony between different political parties and political conditions prevailing then.

He contended that the NRO 2007 was promulgated by him as the then president on the advice of the government which was later declared by the apex court as void ab initio through its judgement in December 2009.

Gen Musharraf argued that the NRO was aimed at fostering mutual trust and confidence amongst the holders of public office and removing the vestiges of political vendetta and victimisation and to make the election process more transparent and to amend certain laws in addition to connected matters.

In his petition, Mr Gilani had contended that Gen Musharraf subverted the Constitution by declaring emergency followed by the promulgation of NRO, arbitrarily withdrawing criminal and corruption cases against the politicians, including Asif Zardari which caused huge financial loss to the exchequer.

Published in Dawn, August 29th, 2018

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