Zardari, Gilani to be indicted in Toshakhana reference next month

Pakistan Today

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court on Monday fixed September 9 as a new date to frame charges against former president Asif Ali Zardari and and former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in the Toshakhana reference.
Zardari had arrived in court with his children party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari amid heavy security. Due to the Covid-19 situation, the party had advised workers and supporters not to attend the hearing.
The hearing was marred by bickering between National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi and the legal counsels of Zardari and PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif, both of whom are nominated in the reference.
Barrister Tassaduq Hanif told the court that he was manhandled by the police while Zardari’s legal counsel Farooq Naek said he was not being allowed to enter the court premises. Jahangir Jadoon, who was representing Nawaz, also said the same, sparking a reaction from the NAB prosecutor.
“If you want to proceed with the case then you will have to decide if lawyers can appear in this court,” Naek said before the judge. He also pointed out that the courtroom was full of people.
“Asif Zardari is ill, if [he] contracts coronavirus, who will be responsible?”
He pointed out that former prime minister Gilani contracted the infection after a court appearance.
The reference states that Zardari and Sharif obt­ained cars from Tosha­khana by paying 15 per cent of the price of the cars.
The bureau further alleged that Gillani facilitated Zardari and Nawaz in this regard. He dishonestly and illegally relaxed the procedure for the acceptance and disposal of gifts, issued by the government of Pakistan vide Cabinet Division’s Memorandum No.9/8/2004-TK dated June 25, 2007, which expressly stipulates that vehicles shall not be allowed to be purchased by the recipients and be given to the central pool of care of the Cabinet Division.
It further states that Zardari accepted and received the armoured vehicles as a gift from the United Arab Emirates (BMW750 Li model 2005, Lexus Jeep model 2007) and from Libya (BMW 760 Li model 2008) in September-October 2008. It was obligated to immediately report and deposit the vehicles with Toshakhana of Cabinet Division but he neither reported the gifted vehicles nor despoiled the same.
The NAB reference alleges that Sharif did not hold any public office in 2008. However, from April to December 2008 without giving any application or request to then prime minister Gillani dishonestly and illegally obtained relaxation for his benefits of the procedure for the vide Cabinet Division’s above said Memorandum which expressly stipulate that vehicles shall not be allowed to be purchased by the recipients and be given to the Central Pool of cars of the Cabinet Division.
“Nawaz Sharif knowingly and with dishonest intention obtained illegal favour in connivance with the then prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani by obtaining the relaxation of said procedure for the acceptance and disposal of gifts,” reference states.
The NAB investigation has accused these public figures of having committed the offence of corruption and being involved in corrupt practices defined under various sections of NAB.
The agency has requested the court to conduct a trial and sentence the accused to the strictest possible jail terms under the NAB Ordinance for their involvement in the corruption scam.

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