Zardari Cleared In One More Graft Case

By Bernama

Islamabad : A Pakistani anti-corruption court Wednesday cleared Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Asif Ali Zardari in a graft case while reserving its judgment in another case till Friday, Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.

Support TwoCircles

Last week, anti-corruption courts in Rawalpindi had dropped five of the seven cases against Zardari, whose Pakistan People’s party will lead a coalition government at the centre.

The decision was in line with Supreme Court’s order in February upholding the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) passed in October by President Pervez Musharraf to grant amnesty in graft cases to PPP leaders, including Zardari and his slain wife Benazir Bhutto.

After the apex court upheld the National Reconciliation Ordinance, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) decided to terminate several corruption cases it had pursued against Zardari for over a decade.

Zardari had spent over eight year in prison following his arrest in connection with these cases dated back to 1990’s when Bhutto was the prime minister. But his lawyer had said the charges were “politically motivated and baseless”.

When the remaining two cases came up for hearing Wednesday in the court of Judge Sagheer Quadri, one was quashed while a decision in the other was reserved till Friday due to a “technical hitch”.

NAB prosecutors told the court that they wanted both the cases terminated but the judge pointed out that Zardari had been named a “proclaimed offender” in one case.

Zardari’s counsel Farooq H Naek argued his client could not appear in court for security reasons and sought an exemption.

The judge exempted Zardari from appearing in court but sought a written request and a detailed explanation from his counsel.

The court then reserved its judgement till Friday though the NAB prosecutors said they believed that Zardari would also be cleared in the last remaining case.

The cases related to a contentious deal for the import of tractors and the alleged amassing of wealth beyond known sources of income by Zardari and his associates.

The dropping of the graft cases was widely expected after the NAB decided not to pursue corruption charges against Zardari. This followed the Supreme Court’s decision on Feb 27 to vacate a stay order on the NRO.

The anti-corruption courts have also ordered the release of Zardari’s assets and properties that were frozen or confiscated. These included bank accounts and sugar mills.