News Analysis |
Former president and co-chairman of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Asif Ali Zardari has rejected all claims of Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report that was submitted before the Supreme Court in a case pertaining to the alleged money laundering through fake accounts. Mr. Zardari submitted his written reply in the Supreme Court on Sunday and maintained that the report prepared by the JIT was based upon unsubstantial claims and should, therefore, be dismissed.
It is important to mention here that the apex court last year took suo motu notice of delay in a 2015 Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) probe into fake bank accounts. The JIT investigating the matter told the SC that a close nexus had been found between a troika of the Zardari Group, Omni Group, and Bahria Town.
The NAB, an anti-corruption watchdog is working independently to look into the cases of corruption and misuse of authority.
The JIT report revealed that at least 29 bank accounts identified as fake had been used for money laundering of Rs42 billion. The top court subsequently ordered the Zardari Group, Omni Group, Bahria Town, Faryal Talpur and others, including contractors/ builders, to file their comments on the JIT report.
The former president in a 17-page-long written reply said that he had not done anything wrong. “The statements recorded by witnesses and the documents [accompanying them] were not provided to us,” the reply stated. Moreover, PPP co-chairman also maintained that the JIT was politically motivated and attempted to damage the repute of the Zardari family.
“The JIT is being used as a means for political victimization,” it said, adding that to accuse someone without showing them the evidence is against Article 10A of the Constitution (Right to a fair trial). In his reply, the PPP co-chairman requested the court to dismiss the JIT’s report, contending that the leaking of the second JIT report prior to its submission in court is against the sanctity of the court.
The JIT investigating the matter told the SC that a close nexus had been found between a troika of the Zardari Group, Omni Group, and Bahria Town.
It is worth mentioning that the reply also argued that the JIT was being used as an instrument by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government to humiliate Zardari family [Zardari, Bilawal, and Talpur] and to tarnish the repute of PPP. Mr. Zardari has been using different tactics to evade ongoing cases. Analysts argue that former president brought in the matter of 18th amendment, Sindh card, and now accusing the sitting government to shape a narrative as if he is being politically victimized.
It is worth noting here that Mr. Zardari and his legal counsel only contend the findings of JIT on some technical grounds but are unable to refute them in any substantial manner. The reply submitted by the former president only terms the JIT report as unsubstantial but fails to prove it so. There is no evidence provided by Mr. Zardari which validates his claims of innocence.
It is expected that the apex court will allow the National Accountability Court (NAB) to further probe into ‘allegations’ against the former president and file the reference if found involved. The NAB, an anti-corruption watchdog is working independently to look into the cases of corruption and misuse of authority.