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July 13, 2018

CJ says no one’s self respect be undermined: SC halts action against Zardari

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July 13, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) put to rest on Thursday reports that Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur had been barred from leaving the country over their alleged involvement in a corruption case.

As a two-member SC bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, resumed hearing its suo motu notice of the FIA probe into a Rs35 billion money-laundering scam, the bench clarified that neither Zardari was summoned in person nor the brother-sister duo placed on the exit control list (ECL).

Moreover, following expression of reservations by the PPP leaders that the party was being unfairly targeted before the July 25 election, the chief justice directed the FIA not to summon Zardari and Faryal till July 30.

During the proceedings, the chief justice remarked that the defence counsel should have approached the apex court if they had reservations about the top court's orders. He then inquired from the attorney general if its order did not mention Zardari being placed on the ECL, how such reports were aired by the media. The chief justice added that only those persons were ordered to be on the no-fly list, who had criminal cases registered against them.

The bench also wondered that since Zardari is just a suspect, and not an accused, how he could be placed on the ECL.

During the hearing, the chief justice remarked that no one's self-respect should be undermined, and we have to restore trust of our leadership. Chief Justice Nisar remarked that it would direct the FIA not to display bias against anyone during the investigation, as it only seeks a transparent inquiry into the corruption scandal. The hearing was later adjourned until August 6.

Zardari's counsel, Farooq Naek, told the media after the hearing that the bench observed that it did not want the election transparency affected. "This is all being done to bring a bad name to the PPP," he alleged, referring to the mega scandal.

Naek also clarified that the PPP supremo had no association with Zardari Pvt Ltd — which is being probed by the FIA in the scam. Moreover, Naek said he informed the court of their reservations against FIA's joint investigation team head, Najaf Mirza, adding that the chief justice has assured them that he would keep the issues in mind.

Answering a question, Naek blamed the media for "creating a hype" about the ECL issue. He, however, admitted that there was confusion in the earlier order of the court regarding the placement of names on the ECL, which had now been clarified.

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