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Former president Asif Ali Zardari avoids indictment in Park Lane reference

PPP co-chairperson filed an application requesting the accountability court not to indict him in today’s hearing. Photo: File

An accountability court could not indict former president Asif Ali Zardari on Monday in the Park Lane reference being pursued by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

During today’s hearing, the PPP co-chairperson filed an application, through his counsel Farooq H Naek, requesting the accountability court to give him some time. 

“You should have submitted the request earlier,” remarked Judge Azam Khan after receiving the application.

To this, Naek responded by saying that he had to do research and take out records related to the case to defend his client.

However, NAB Prosecutor General Sardar Muzzafar Abbasi intervened and asked the court to issue a notice to them in the case. “We will argue today after 30 minutes,” Abbasi told the court.

“Why is the prosecutor in such a hurry in this case?” asked Naek upon hearing this. He questioned that there are other cases that NAB is pursuing but why was there such a hurry in this case.

“We should be given a reasonable time. We are not asking for a stay order,” added Naek. He added that he was requesting the time for himself.

However, Abbasi responded by saying that NAB has to submit a response and it should be the one asking for time.

“Keep the hearing for the case on the coming Tuesday, I have to do research,” said Naek.

But Abbasi intervened again and told the court that it was necessary to charge the accused within seven days after giving copies of the reference.

After hearing the lawyers, Judge Azam recommended July 9 as the next hearing date. But Naek stated that he had a case in the Supreme Court’s Karachi registry which is why he could not appear for the hearing.

The court, after listening to the lawyer, set July 14 as the next hearing date, with Zardari’s lawyer told to submit his response on the submitted application that day.

The Accountability Court was expected to indict former president Asif Ali Zardari in Park Lane case today.

The court had decided to frame charges against Asif Ali Zardari via video link at the hospital or his residence in case of his ill health. Registrar of the accountability court had written a letter to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Karachi for finalising arrangements for Asif Zardari’s indictment.

The court had directed Karachi NAB to ensure presence of the PPP leader on the video link at his home or hospital in case of his ill health. The court had also directed NAB to ensure presence of other accused along with Zardari and take all necessary steps for their indictment. 

The court in its letter said that the Karachi NAB should make arrangements for indictment of Anwar Majeed, Farooq Abdullah and other accused. The court also directed Karachi NAB to nominate its representatives for identification of the accused adding that charges will be framed against all accused on July 6 at 9:30 in the morning.

In an earlier hearing, the court had deferred indictment of Asif Ali Zardari in Park Lane case. Zardari’s counsel had submitted an application seeking exemption of his client from the court appearance due to ailment and the COVID-19 situation in the country. 

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