Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, co-chairperson of the Pakistan People Party (PPP) called the decision of the court as blatant “victimisation”
LAHORE – In an eventful day, top leaders of major opposition parties were nabbed by Pakistani courts in cases of money laundering and corruption.
Shahbaz Sharif, President of Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) and leader of the opposition parties in parliament, was arrested from the courtroom after the Lahore High Court (LHC) rejected his bail plea.
The two-judge bench of the Lahore High Court rejected Shahbaz’s bail plea and he was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Shahbaz Sharif had sought pre-arrest bail in cases of assets beyond means and money laundering.
NAB’s prosecutor Faisal Bukhari, who maintained that Sharif’s arrest was required because he is to be interrogated in the money laundering case, challenged the bail plea. Bukhari argued that women in Shahbaz’s family were issued a questionnaire but no reply was given on them.
“Ali Ahmed and Nisar Ahmed were employees of Shahbaz since 2009, when he was the Punjab Chief Minister. It was through them that the money was laundered. They had two companies under their names, and they were the directors of the companies. But accused Ikram used to sign the account,” Bukhari briefed the court.
On the other hand, Shahbaz’s counsel Azam Nazir Tarar insisted that he has come to the court on its order after the reference was filed. Thus, arresting him at this point was beyond reason.
“What is the purpose of arresting him at this point?” Tarar questioned.
However, after the court rejected the bail petition, Shahbaz was arrested from inside the court.
The second big development and a major setback to the opposition parties, which have been working towards forming an alliance against the Imran Khan-led government, came when accountability court indicted former President Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur in mega money-laundering case.
The accountability court also indicted Anwar Majeed, head of Omni Group and another accused in the case. The court also indicted Majeed’s son, Abdul Ghani.
All the accused in the case have pleaded not guilty.
The decision of the accountability court came after it dismissed Zardari’s pleas in the fake accounts cases, as well as three corruption references, noting that he could not be acquitted in the cases and would be indicted.
“I have been on these paths earlier as well,” said Asif Ali Zardari.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, co-chairperson of the Pakistan People Party (PPP) called the decision of the court as blatant “victimisation”.
“While the opposition is facing court cases, the cabinet members and Prime Minister Imran Khan’s sister were not summoned because there are two laws in the country,” he said.
It is pertinent to mention here that the opposition parties recently had an All Parties Conference (APC) and had announced a political offensive against and a long march towards Islamabad against the Imran Khan government, who they say came into power through illegal rigging during the elections.
However, with the indictment of Zardari and arrest of Shahbaz Sharif, the opposition alliance is dealt a major blow in its scheduled anti-government campaign.