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Tuesday May 21, 2024

Thatta water supply reference: NAB tells court Zardari has presidential immunity

President Zardari’s counsel Arshad Tabriz informed the court that a plea regarding the immunity was filed earlier, and NAB was supposed to respond on Monday

By Khalid Iqbal
April 23, 2024
President Asif Ali Zardari speaks during a press conference. — AFP/File
President Asif Ali Zardari speaks during a press conference. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Monday submitted a report to the accountability court informing it that President Asif Ali Zardari had presidential immunity under Article 248 of the Constitution.

The court was hearing the Thatta water supply reference. President Zardari’s counsel Arshad Tabriz informed the court that a plea regarding the immunity was filed earlier, and the NAB was supposed to respond on Monday. Judge Nasir Javed Rana adjourned the hearing till May 21.

During the last hearing, Zardari’s counsel maintained that his client enjoyed presidential immunity, hence proceedings against him could not be carried out. The court issued a notice to the NAB seeking its arguments on the matter and adjourned the hearing.

The water supply reference pertains to the special initiative department allegedly illegally awarding the Thatta water supply scheme contract to a private contractor. The accused in the case include former secretary Ejaz Ahmed Khan, Ali Akbar, Ejaz Memon, Ali Akbar Abro, Khawaja Abdul Ghani Majeed, Manahal Majeed, Abdul Nadeem Bhutto, and others.

In January 2023, an accountability court returned a corruption reference against Zardari after amendments to the NAB law. Zardari had earlier also invoked presidential immunity in the Park Lane reference case.

The Park Lane case accused Zardari of influencing the relevant authorities during his tenure as president from 2008 to 2013 to obtain loans for his front companies. Zardari allegedly received a loan of Rs1.5 billion released for Parthenon Private Limited “with ill intention”, and the money was allegedly later transferred for his personal use through fake bank accounts. The anti-graft buster accused him of causing a loss of Rs3.77 billion to the national exchequer.