News Analysis |
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) officials refused Aseefa Bhutto Zardari to see her father who is in the custody of anti-corruption watchdog. This generated debate in the public sphere as to why the officials did not allow Zardari’s daughter to see her father despite the court’s order. Analysts believe such non-serious behavior of the NAB causes unwanted public criticism which ultimately undermines the legitimacy of the institution.
PPP condemn the high-headedness of the NAB and maintained that the watchdog is being used by the incumbent government for political victimization. According to details, PPP secretary general Farhatullah Babar, along with Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar held a press conference on Wednesday and that said Ms Aseefa was turned back by NAB officials when she went to meet her father under court orders.
NAB has refused to let me in to see my father. 45 minutes of going from gate to gate. Disregarding the law, all norms of justice and decency. Every freedom is compromised this Independence Day! pic.twitter.com/cTOLt1ZxyU
— Aseefa B Zardari (@AseefaBZ) August 14, 2019
Both PPP leaders also clarified that the Accountability Court, Islamabad, had ordered NAB to facilitate Mr Zardari’s sister Azra Fazal Pechuho, his son Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and daughters Bakhtawar Bhutto-Zardari and Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari to meet the former president on Aug 12, 13 and 14 on the occasion of Eidul Azha. Mr Zardari has been remanded in NAB custody.
PPP has repeatedly maintained that the former President is innocent but without offering any reliable documentary evidence which is demanded by the media, sane public and courts.
“However, this afternoon, when Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari arrived at the NAB detention centre at the appointed time she was first made to shuttle from door to door before finally being told that she cannot meet her father and though she showed a copy of the court order, it was disregarded by NAB authorities who turned her back,” Mr Babar said.
Moreover, while presenting the court’s order to allow Zardari’s offspring to see him the PPP leaders maintain that it was contempt court on the part of NAB officials. “By first permitting Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari to visit her father in compliance with court orders and then, upon arrival at the detention center, refusing her the meeting the NAB authorities have committed contempt of the court,” he added.
Another violation of law and human rights. Despite having a court order to visit my father in NAB custody, NAB has refused visitation at the last minute. Standing outside NAB with the court order. pic.twitter.com/3rDzCe3JGi
— Aseefa B Zardari (@AseefaBZ) August 14, 2019
Political commentators also believe that after the court had explicitly directed the NAB to let Zardari meet his children, there was no point of refusing the court’s order. Such moves by the NAB create serious suspicion over the process of accountability which ultimately looks like political revenge, said a Lahore based academic.
Allegations Against Former President
Former President Asif Ali Zardari is facing many accusations of money laundering, fake bank accounts, misuse of authority and benami properties. He has rejected all the allegations but the government is firm on its version and committed to proceed.
PPP has repeatedly maintained that the former President is innocent but without offering any reliable documentary evidence which is demanded by the media, sane public and courts. This convinces political analysts that the PPP desires to focus on creating public narrative to seek sympathy without bothering to surface any evidence.
Recently, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar has said that the government would take legal action against 32 benami companies of Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari. Akbar was addressing a press conference along with Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, the PM’s special assistant said the action would be taken against benami properties as per the law of the country and the money recovered from such properties and companies would be deposited to the national exchequer.
Both made it clear that the government would continue taking action against money laundering, benami properties. They said that Prime Minister Imran Khan would now receive the briefing on fortnightly and monthly basis.
Shahzad Akbar said as per law, all benami properties of Zardari would be confiscated if he failed to produce documents concerning the legality of such properties within 60 days. While sharing details, he said these benami companies included sugar mills, trading companies, construction companies, cement factory, automobile manufacturing companies, holding companies, consulting firms, gas companies etc.
Experts and political analysts believe that the NAB needs to focus more on finding evidence against the arrested politicians (allegedly involved in mega corruption cases) and less on such insignificant developments which cause public disapproval of the institution. The NAB officials need to be more careful at a time when joint opposition is certain to initiate organized propaganda against the anti-corruption drive led by PM Khan and term it as “politically motivated accountability of political opponents”.