Home South Asia Pakistan Ex-president Zardari to head three National Assembly standing committees

Ex-president Zardari to head three National Assembly standing committees

National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser has issued the notification appointing the ex-president and the co-chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party as the head of the standing committees on commerce and textile, industry and trade and water resources.

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News Desk |

In an interesting development, the former president Asif Ali Zardari has been made the head of three standing committees of the National Assembly.

National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser issued the notification appointing the ex-president and the co-chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party as the head of the standing committees on commerce and textile, industry and trade and water resources.

The PPP co-chairperson is currently in NAB custody in connection with his alleged involvement in the fake bank accounts cases. On June 10, Zardari was arrested after the Islamabad High Court rejected his bail application.

The anti-corruption unit furnished details of inquiries, investigations, and references in the fake accounts case. In the report, NAB listed down at least eight cases where Zardari’s link had allegedly been established.

Earlier, the National Assembly speaker had issued production orders for Zardari which allowed him to attend assembly sessions. Now, he will be able to attend standing committee sessions as well. Interestingly, a standing committee chairperson has the power to issue production orders as well.

NAB Arrests Zardari

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had arrested Zardari from his Islamabad residence hours after the IHC dismissed Zardari’s ad-interim bail in two cases related to money laundering of billions through fake accounts. Subsequently, NAB had shifted him to the accountability bureau’s Rawalpindi office.

IHC’s divisional bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani had dismissed pre-arrest bail pleas filed by Zardari and Sindh lawmaker Faryal Talpur, which allowed the anti-graft watchdog to arrest Zardari and his sister.

Read more: NAB arrests Zardari in fake bank accounts case

After IHC had dismissed bail plea, a large number of security personnel and senior officials had reached the former president’s Islamabad residence. Before making the arrest, the accountability body had approached National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser to seek permission for arresting the PPP lawmaker.

The media reported that the cases are part of the investigations being conducted by NAB in pursuance of the Supreme Court’s verdict in the money laundering of billions through fake accounts case wherein it forwarded the joint investigation team (JIT) report with directions to investigate and file references.

Other suspects include Omni Group’s Anwar Majeed and his son Abdul Ghani Majeed, former Pakistan Stock Exchange chairperson Hussain Lawai, Summit Bank Senior Vice-President Taha Raza.

After the JIT report, the names of 172 individuals were placed on the no-fly list by the interior ministry.

On May 14, the anti-corruption unit furnished details of inquiries, investigations, and references in the fake accounts case. In the report, NAB listed down at least eight cases where Zardari’s link had allegedly been established. It further added that 22 inquiries and three investigations were underway while three references have been filed.

Fake Accounts Case History

Zardari, Talpur, Omni Group’s Anwar Majid and his sons, and the former Pakistan Stock Exchange chairperson Hussain Lawai are among those being investigated in a case related to money laundering of billions through fictitious bank accounts.

In December 2015, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) initiated a discreet investigation into certain bank accounts through which multi-billion rupee transactions were made after some information came to the fore when an intelligence agency picked up a prominent money changer in an unrelated case.

Read more: NAB analyzes headway in fake accounts investigation

As per media reports, the investigators have so far identified 29 accounts which received payments, totaling at least Rs35 billion. The reports added that the probe was initially shelved but resumed almost a-year-and-a-half later with FIA’s State Bank circle initiating a formal inquiry in January 2018. By June, the FIA had several high-profile names on its list but was unable to make headway–for several reasons.

It was then the Supreme Court intervened and the then chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar took suo motu notice of the ‘slow progress’ in the money-laundering case. In July 2018, Zardari’s close aides Hussain Lawai, Taha Raza and two others were arrested. Subsequently, the first case was registered in the mega-corruption scandal.

Subsequently, the ex CJP Nisar had ordered the formation of a JIT, which identified 11,500 bank accounts and 924 account holders at the start of their investigation. After the JIT report, the names of 172 individuals were placed on the no-fly list by the interior ministry.

Read more: NAB detains Zardari’s sister Faryal Talpur

In addition, over 20 ‘benami’ accounts at some private banks were opened in 2013, 2014 and 2015 from where transactions worth billions of rupees were made, the media had reported, adding that the amount is said to be black money gathered from various kickbacks, commissions, and bribes.

The case was transferred to the court in the capital after a Karachi banking court accepted NAB’s transfer request which came following the Supreme Court’s decision wherein the JIT report and evidence collected was referred to NAB for further investigations.

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