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Thursday, May 16, 2024

Proceedings put on halt as Zardari enjoys Presidential immunity

The ruling was based on Article 248(2) of the Constitution, which shields the president from legal actions or case registrations while in office.

An accountability court in Islamabad granted presidential immunity to Asif Ali Zardari, the head of state, in the Park Lane and Toshakhana references on Saturday. The decision was made by Accountability Court Judge Nasir Javed Rana, who issued a written ruling on Zardari’s request, effectively halting all legal proceedings against him. The ruling was based on Article 248(2) of the Constitution, which shields the president from legal actions or case registrations while in office.

The written ruling highlighted that the prosecution did not object to Zardari’s immunity plea, leading to its approval and the subsequent suspension of case proceedings until the end of Zardari’s presidential term. The Park Lane case alleges that Zardari used his influence over authorities during his presidency (2008-2013) to secure loans for his front companies, such as Parthenon Private Limited, which were allegedly misused for personal gain through fraudulent bank transactions, causing a significant loss to the national exchequer estimated at Rs3.77 billion.

Earlier, on April 22, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) informed the court that Zardari also held immunity in the Thatta water supply case under Article 248 of the Constitution. Zardari’s legal team consistently argued for his immunity, leading the court to summon NAB for further arguments and adjourn the case hearing.

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The Thatta water supply reference involves allegations of the special initiative department unlawfully awarding a contract for the Thatta water supply scheme to a private contractor. Notably, in January 2023, an accountability court returned a corruption reference against Zardari following amendments to the NAB law.