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August 30, 2018

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NRO case: No to Zardari, Musharraf affidavits

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday expressed dissatisfaction over the affidavits submitted by former presidents Asif Ali Zardari and General (retd) Pervez Musharraf regarding their assets and directed them to provide within three weeks the 10-year record of assets and foreign and local bank accounts owned by them.

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umer Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsen, resumed hearing into the petition filed by Feroz Shah Gilani, praying to order recovery of ‘huge amounts of public money’ misappropriated and wasted by them through unlawful means ‘already on record in different judgments of the Supreme Court and high court'.

The petitioner had made former presidents Pervez Musharraf, Asif Ali Zardari and former attorney general Malik Qayyum as respondents. The petitioner had contended that Pervez Musharraf subverted the Constitution by declaring emergency followed by the promulgation of NRO, through which criminal and corruption cases against politicians, including Zardari, were arbitrarily withdrawn.

In pursuance of the court's earlier order, former president Asif Ali Zardari the other day submitted an affidavit before the court wherein he contended that neither did he own any movable or immovable property nor had any bank account outside Pakistan as of today.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, while hearing the case, had directed Pervez Musharraf, Asif Ali Zardari and former attorney general Justice (retd) Malik Qayyum to submit the details of their foreign bank accounts.

On Wednesday, the court, however, expressed dissatisfaction over the affidavit submitted by Asif Ali Zardari and sought from the former president, record of his foreign assets as well as local bank accounts he owned since 2007 and till to-date. The court further directed Asif Ali Zardari to also inform the court on oath if he had acquired properties through a trust fund.

The court also directed Asif Ali Zardari to submit details of properties and assets he owned in the name of his spouse Benazir Bhutto. Similarly, the court also sought 10-year record of foreign assets of former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf as well as details of his and his spouse local assets and bank accounts.

The court also sought foreign and local assets and bank accounts of former attorney general Malik Qayyum since 2007 and to-date as well.

During the course of hearing, Akhtar Shah, counsel forformer president Pervez Musharraf, appeared before the court and submitted an affidavit what the court termed unverified and unsigned. The learned counsel, while submitting details pertaining to immovable property outside Pakistan, said it includes Apartment 3902, Tower 6, South Ridge, Downtown Dubai, worth 5.4 million dirham and movable assets held outside Pakistan including Mercedes car Model 2015 (50533) worth 230,000 dirham, Tahoe Jeep Model 2017 (32401) worth 150,000 dirham and Impala Car Model 2018 (80214) worth 130,000 dirham.

Similarly, he said that the former president has foreign bank accounts, including Union National Bank Dubai UAE A/C No012512544622 having 92,100 dirham, United Bank, 2 Brook Street, London A/C No01301001 having 21,550 pounds and Dana Gas Shares of 268,653 dirham.

The chief justice asked the learned counsel as to whether Pervez Musharraf had declared this in his tax returns file to which the counsel said that he would confirm this from his client.

The counsel submitted that nothing would be concealed from the court to which the chief justice said that they would not allow him to conceal any information from the court.

The chief justice observed that even if Pervez Musharraf did not spend his whole salary he drew as president, he could not buy a flat. “How he created these assets”, the CJP questioned.

The counsel however replied that his client bought foreign assets after leaving for abroad adding that he generated income by delivering lectures abroad. At this, the chief justice said in a lighter tone that after retirement, he may also start delivering lectures.

The court instructed the lawyer to ask his client, Pervez Musharraf, to clarify before the court from where he created these assets besides directing him to submit in three weeks, details of his children’s national and foreign properties and accounts since 2007 and to-date.

During the hearing, Farooq H Naek, counsel for Asif Ali Zardari, submitted that his client had served a nine-year sentence and nothing was proved against him but despite of that he had been dragged before the courts.

“My only fault is that I am a politician," Naek contended. He said that some 40 witnesses were produced against his client in different cases and not a single witness had given any statement against his client.

Justice Umer Ata Bandial observed that appeals are still pending in higher courts against the decisions of accountability courts. Justice Ijazul Ahsen observed that the court is only interested in the assets but not in the allegations leveled against Asif Ali Zardari. “But I should be at least given the reasons for submitting more details," Farook H Naek questioned.

“The reasons are that Mr Zardari is a public office holder hence he should clear himself before the public and prove his honesty," the CJP replied adding that after proving himself honest, the court will issue him a clearance certificate.

The chief justice further told the learned counsel that spending nine years in jails has nothing to do with the assets, therefore, he should submit the whole record of his foreign as well as local properties and bank accounts since 2007 and to-date as well.

“You voluntarily disclose your assets, properties and bank accounts in your affidavit and clean yourself," Justice Ijazul Ahsen told the learned counsel adding that his client was the leader of a political party hence, he was required to disclose his properties before the public.

“But I should also be given compensation for spending nine years in jail," Naek contended. “We will give you certificate of clearance if you proved yourself innocent which will benefit you politically," the CJP told the counsel.

The chief justice asked Naek as to whether his client had any Swiss account as well as accounts in the name of Benazir Bhutto or his children. The chief justice asked the learned counsel to inquire from his client.

Wasim Sajjad, counsel for former attorney general Malik Muhammad Qayyum, submitted that there were no allegations against his client and he was not a public office holder. The chief justice, however, observed that Malik Qayyum was a former judge of a high court, hence he should also submit an affidavit, giving details of his foreign and local assets and bank accounts he owned since 2007 and to-date as well. Later, the court adjourned the hearing for three weeks.

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