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SC dismisses review petitions: Tough times ahead for Zardari?


News Analysis |

In an interesting move, the Supreme Court of Pakistan dismissed review appeals filed by former president Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur and Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah in the fake bank accounts case on Tuesday. The bench headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa also rejected the appeals filed by the Sindh government and Omni group in the same case.

The decision made headlines across the country due to its political as well as legal significance in the present political scenario. Political commentators maintain that the former president has no justification to defend his involvement in a fake bank account and money laundering. This is likely to create more problems for embattled Zardari in the coming days.

The plea, recalling that the JIT was formed on the recommendation of the FIA, said the probe report was finalized without incorporation of Asif Ali Zardari’s and his sister’s version and it was sent to the SC.

Furthermore, the bench noted that 99.9% review pleas were based upon apprehensions and not on any substantial evidence. “Some statements were attributed to us that we had never said,” the CJP pointed out. Experts were already of the view that review petitions filed by the PPP leadership contained nothing but some technical grounds which can conveniently be thrown away. Sources claimed that the evidence gathered by the investigation team was ‘irrefutable’.

The dismissal of appeals by the apex court has reportedly increased political pressure over the former president and senior leadership of PPP since corruption cases shall be filed after completion of an inquiry against Asif Ali Zardari.

Background of the Case

Former President Asif Ali Zardari,  his sister Faryal Talpur, and close aides are accused of money-laundering and fake accounts. The Supreme Court of Pakistan had ordered to constitute a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe into the matter. The top court ordered the formation on the recommendations of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). The FIA presented its report on the 28th of August last year and recommended the court to form a JIT.

Read more: Fake accounts case: JIT questions Bilawal Bhutto

JIT came up with some shocking facts which demanded a further inquiry and careful examination of the assets owned by the former president and his sister. The JIT also recommended placing the names of 172 people on the ECL including the former president, his sister, and party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

However, the apex court directed the government to exclude the names of Mr. Bilawal and Chief Minister Sindh Mr. Syed Murad Ali Shah. On Jan 7, the SC, in light of the Joint Investigation Team report, ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to conduct a thorough inquiry into the case and wrap it up within two months.

Now if the NAB goes ahead and finds the former president and his sister a part of money laundering gang, the future is going to be politically tough for the PPP.

The plea, recalling that the JIT was formed on the recommendation of the FIA, said the probe report was finalized without incorporation of Asif Ali Zardari’s and his sister’s version and it was sent to the SC. The review appeal also stated that the apex court’s decision commits an error in holding that the constitution of the JIT is a valid exercise of jurisdiction in aid of a lawful object.

But the court has rejected the review petitions, which means the NAB is now allowed to probe into the matter and conclude the case within the given time frame.

Read more: Is a PTI-PPP deal on cards?

Now if the NAB goes ahead and finds the former president and his sister a part of money laundering gang, the future is going to be politically tough for the PPP. Earlier it was speculated that Zardari will be able to get a deal from the establishment but after repeated refusals by Prime Minister Imran Khan, it is a clear crystal that Zardari and his aides are soon to face a tough time.

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