KARACHI: The banking court extended on Monday the pre-arrest bails granted to former president Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur and other suspects in the money laundering case till January 23. This was the seventh time the bails granted to the accused were extended by the banking court.
A large number of Pakistan Peoples Party leaders and workers, including Sindh Assembly speaker Agha Siraj Durrani, Manzoor Wasan, Nisar Khoro, Imtiaz Sheikh and Waqar Mehdi were present in the courtroom.
As the hearing started in the banking court in Karachi on Monday, the defendants' lawyer asked the court to direct the Federal Investigation Agency, which is probing the case, to submit the final challan. The court remarked that the Supreme Court had been prevented investigating agency from proceeding any further and that no action could be taken without the express permission of the apex court.
Prepared to face court trials: Zardari
With the courtroom filled beyond capacity, the FIA's legal team and investigators, meanwhile, took exception to the chaos that ensued and demanded for Rangers personnel to be deployed outside.
FIA prosecutor Bakhtiar Ahmed questioned how the case could be heard in the prevailing situation, when people were being pushed around and a security situation was being created. The chaotic scenes even caused Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Faryal Talpur to complain of feeling sick. She repeatedly asked for water and had to be attended by the women workers of the party present in the courtroom.
Visitors from Punjab
Abdul Ghani Majeed, the son of Omni Group chief Anwar Majeed, and prominent banker Hussain Lawai, who are both implicated in the same case, were brought in from Adiala where they are currently incarcerated, for the hearing.
Owing to the rush inside the courtroom, the suspects had to stand in line for quite some time before they could enter the court. Police personnel kept saying, "custody, custody", but the crowd gathered outside the courtroom refused to budge.
Outside the courtroom
A large number of PPP workers and leaders had gathered outside the courtroom in a show of support for the party leadership. They shouted slogans against the government and what they termed as a "biased accountability process".
Addressing the media, PPP Sindh chapter president Nisar Khuhro said that the party respected the courts and was ready to face all cases against its leadership. He maintained that the party's leaders would not flee the country, adding that though Zardari and Talpur had submitted their passports, their names were added to the Exit Control List (ECL).
The former minister was of the opinion that the incumbent federal government had given nothing but give inflation and unemployment.
"The nation is weary of Imran Khan and stands with the PPP," he said, while accusing the PTI government of "attempting to drag institutions into politics." With regard to the Joint Interrogation Team, Khuhro said that no one had been allowed to give a clarification to the JIT's allegations. On the recommendations to seize the property of Bilawal House, he said that the JIT may seal the entire country.
PPP leader Nafisa Shah, while speaking to the media, said that this was the eighth attendance of Asif Zardari and Faryal Talpur in the banking court. She said that the JIT report was only apparently secret.
The PPP leader said that there were two types of Pakistan in the country. "One is the Pakistan where JITs are formed at breakfasts and dinners and the second is where nothing happens over established off-shore companies," she quipped.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2019.
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