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May 30, 2019

Bilawal appears before NAB as PPP workers clash with police

Top Story

May 30, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Police and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) workers clashed on Wednesday as the party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari appeared before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Wednesday in relation to the fake accounts case. Former president Asif Ali Zardari and his son Bilawal were to appear separately before the NAB on May 29.

A joint interrogation team of the probe authority questioned Bilawal, after which he left the NAB headquarters. Bilawal was handed over a questionnaire during his appearance before the NAB.

Sources said that in the questionnaire, Bilawal was asked 32 questions, which he has to respond to by June 12. Sources said that Bilawal was probed regarding the accounts of Zardari Group of Companies.

Earlier, upon Bilawal Bhutto's arrival, workers chanted slogans in his favour. Police used water cannon to stop the PPP workers from moving forward. At D-Chowk, the PPP workers and police broke into a scuffle as well. Police baton-charged workers at several places and also made arrests later on.

Police arrested 40 activists, who were released later. Police said that the protesting PPP workers were arrested on violation of Section 144. They were kept in lock-ups of different police stations. However, most of the people were released on surety bonds. The police said that no case was registered against any activist.

“Police personnel were more in number than the protesting activists,” a uniformed police officer mentioned while talking to The News. However, the officer said, nobody will be allowed to violate the law.

Clashes broke out between policemen and PPP workers when they were barred at the D-Chowk from entry towards the NAB headquarters. Two women members of the National Assembly, Mussarat Rafiq Mahesar and Shazia Sobia, were also briefly detained by police. Police also fired teargas to disperse the workers who refused to disperse as police tried to persuade them to leave.

Earlier, Asif Ali Zardari excused himself from appearing before the NAB in relation to the fake accounts case, sources informed. This was the second time, the former president excused himself from presenting before the probe authority. Addressing the media after his appearance in the NAB, Bilawal said the government begins and ends with the NAB. He said the PPP is trained hard in resistance.

Bilawal alleged that Prime Minister Imran Khan was conspiring to take over all institutions in the country and form a one-party system. He said constructive criticism was not being tolerated in the country.

“The people are realising that Imran Khan lied on the slogan of change. They have realised that they are not capable of running the country. He is conspiring and using extreme force to hide his inadequacies,” Bilawal said.

The PPP chairman stressed that it was the right of every Pakistani to take part in a democracy which ensured freedom to assembly and speech. He added that there were no emergency measures in place in Islamabad and Section 144 had not been imposed. “I had not given a call but some of my workers and MNAs decided to come.

The law does not forbid people coming with me. Despite this, the PPP workers and elected members were attacked by the government of Imran Khan,” he said.

According to Bilawal, these types of tactics were not something new for PPP, and would not scare the party. “We will not compromise on our principles and ideology,” he said. Bilawal reiterated PPP’s belief that the NAB, which was made by Pervez Musharraf, was a black law.

“This institution is for political revenge and engineering. We believe that in our case rule of law, standard precedence is not being used. Our right to a fair trial is being undermined,” he said. On his appearance before the accountability bureau, Bilawal said he was interviewed for 20 minutes. “The company about which I am being questioned, I was made a shareholder of that company when I was in school,” he said. Bilawal added that he was made an office bearer of the company when Asif Ali Zardari became the president.

“I have not been involved in day to day business activity which is why NAB gave me a questionnaire which I will answer after consulting my lawyer,” Bilawal said.

According to Bilawal, people at the NAB were doing their jobs and the PPP had structural reservations with the Bureau. “There is no difference between today’s government and Musharraf’s government, we did not accept the selected government that is using the state against the political opponents,” he said.

Bilawal was critical of the NAB Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal, stating that he should not have given interview to a journalist.

Meanwhile, Asif Zardari’s daughter Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari said Pakistan has not seen this kind of state brutality. “#PPP workers beaten, dragged, arrested, water cannon & tear gassed. #Pakistan has not seen this kind of pre planned state brutality since Dictatorship - that too against peaceful, unarmed citizens in the capital. Shameful, disgusting & absolutely illegal,” she said on Twitter.

Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, sister of Bakhtawar, said the NAB’s black law can’t be washed away by water canons.

“Yeh Hai Tabdeeli ?! NAB ka Kala qanoon can’t be washed away by these water cannons, being used on innocents. Jiyalay phaansi say nahin daray toh paani say kya darain gay? (Jiyalas are not afraid of hanging, what to say about water canons),” she said on Twitter.

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