Witnesses testify against Zardari in Toshakhana reference

Tribune

Former president accused of ‘illegally’ retaining expensive vehicles gifted to him by different foreign dignitaries
ISLAMABAD: An accountability court on Wednesday testified witnesses in the Toshakhana (gift depository) reference filed against former president Asif Ali Zardari, former premier Yousuf Raza Gillani and others by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Last year, an anti-graft court indicted Zardari and Gillani in the Toshakhana case and also declared former premier Nawaz Sharif a proclaimed offender in the same matter.
Zardari and Sharif had been accused by the country’s top anti-corruption body of illegally retaining expensive vehicles gifted to them by different foreign states and dignitaries instead of depositing them in the Toshakhana.
The anti-corruption establishment also maintained that Gillani, during his tenure as the prime minister, facilitated the PPP co-chairman in retaining the vehicles.
According to the national graft buster, Zardari and Sharif retained the vehicles “against a nominal payment of 15% of their total value” through “dishonest and illegal means for their personal benefit and interest”.
On Wednesday, Gillani appeared before the court as accountability court judge Syed Asghar Ali heard the case.
The associate lawyer said that counsel Farooq H Naek could not appear before the court due to his commitment in the Supreme Court.
The judge inquired whether the associate lawyer’s name was mentioned in the power of attorney to which he replied had Gillani himself had appeared in person.
The court recorded the statement of NAB’s witness Zulfiqar Ali Gopang and Naveed Malik and allowed Gillani to leave after marking his presence.
After recording the statements, the court directed to summon other witnesses for arguments in the case and adjourned the hearing until January 13.
Later, while speaking to media outside the court premises, Gillani censured the policies of the PTI-led government saying that the people were suffering and inflation was sky-rocketing.
He said that the economic conditions were worsening with every passing day and the unemployment was increasing.
Deliberating on the issue regarding the cancellation of Nawaz Sharif’s passport, Gillani said Nawaz had remained the premier of the country thrice and had a red passport.
He refuted the impression that PPP was holding backdoor-channel talks and noted that the PDM was standing with the people of the country.

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