Islamabad: A day after his arrest, former President and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari was handed over to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on remand for 11 days.
The NAB Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi had requested a 15-day physical remand but the judge of the Accountability Court Mohammad Arshad Malik directed the NAB to present Zardari again on June 21.
Prior to Zardari’s arrival in court, he underwent a mandatory medical check-up by a team of doctors from a local hospital, who declared the ex-president fit for physical remand.
According to the NAB prosecutor, Zardari planned to legitimise illegal income through transactions in fake accounts and had used people for money laundering.
NAB officials said that there were eight grounds for Zardari’s arrest.
“Zardari laundered money through frontman and unnamed institutions,” NAB officials told the court.
Zardari’s counsel, Farooq H Naek, dismissed the allegations and maintained that the trial would only be fair if the investigation was impartial.
The alleged front companies for Park Lane and Parthenon were mentioned before the bench, to which Naek objected, saying that “there was no connection between the fake accounts case and Park Lane”.
Earlier, while talking to the media before the trial began, Zardari termed his arrest a pressure tactic by the government to deviate public attention from its ‘poor performance.’
While talking to the media in the Accountability Court on Tuesday, where the former president was brought by the country’s anti-graft agency NAB, Zardari said the arrest of politicians in Third World countries is the ‘beauty of politics’ and politicians should be prepared for it.
Zardari looked a little perturbed by his arrest and talked to the journalists frankly.
He was arrested on Monday from his residence in Islamabad after his bail plea was dismissed by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in the fake accounts cases pertaining to billions of rupees of money laundering.
Zardari said his arrest was part of pressure tactics by the government to keep Opposition parties from launching an anti-government movement.
When a journalist drew attention to the fact that earlier former prime minister and leader of the major opposition party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Nawaz Sharif was arrested in a corruption reference and now leader of the other opposition party Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is held by the NAB, he said it made little difference as his son and party chairman Bilawal Bhutto was there to lead the opposition.
“Even if they arrest Bilawal, my daughter Assefa will be there to lead the party,” said Zardari.
To a question whether he felt any regret by joining hands with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and toppling the Balochistan government against the PML-N, Zardari said one had to take a position and perhaps it was a right decision under those circumstances.