Zardari, Gillani to be indicted in Toshakhana case on Sept 9

Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court on Monday ruled that former president Asif Ali Zardari and former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gillani will be indicted in the Toshakhana reference on Sept 9. Accountability Judge Asghar Ali halted the process to declare former prime minister Nawaz Sharif a proclaimed offender over his perpetual absence from the court’s proceedings in the case until Aug 25 after he was informed that the PML-N supreme leader’s arrest warrants have been challenged in the IHC. The accountability court also summoned Omni Group owner Anwar Majeed and his son Abdul Ghani Majeed, named in the case, to appear on next hearing on Sept 9 for indictment and directed all accused to furnish a surety bond of Rs2 million each. Wearing a face mask and face shield as part of measures to keep coronavirus at bay, the former president turned up in court as Accountability Judge Asghar Ali resumed hearing the case. Over the course of the hearing, Zardari’s lawyer Farooq H Naek complained to the judge that they had considerable difficulty reaching court because of police erecting barriers and setting up check posts on all roads leading to it. At this, the accountability judge said he too faced hardships while reaching court as he was stopped at a check post after which he had to take a u-turn, using an alternative route to reach there. He said he would take up the issue with the administration so as to prevent such a situation in future. PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said on Monday that the National Accountability Bureau can arrest his entire family but it still won’t deter him from changing the PPP’s stance on democracy, the National Finance Commission and the 18th Amendment. The PPP chairman was addressing media outside an accountability court on Monday where former president Asif Ali Zardari had attended a hearing related to the Toshakhana reference. Bilawal alleged that his lawyers were not allowed to go inside the court. “The public and lawyers were not allowed to come to the court. Is this an attempt to pressurise us or the judiciary,” he asked. “Are you so afraid of president Zardari?” said Bilawal, adding that the “entire police” of Islamabad was deployed at the court’s premises. Bilawal said that the government can do whatever it wants but the PPP will not compromise on the 18th Amendment. “We are feeling that there is pressure on us, we are being threatened so that we can tow the same line,” he said. The PPP chairperson accused police and administration of misbehaving with the people. “Today is August 17, every jiyala remembers August 17,” said the PPP chairman, calling it a “mango day” in reference to the plane crash of former military dictator Zia-ul-Haq. Bilawal continued that there was a “puppet” sitting in the Prime Minister House and “his strings are being operated from elsewhere”. The PPP chairman warned that attempts were being made to control everyone like a puppet. “PPP has faced the dictatorships of Yahya Khan, Zia-ul-Haq and Musharraf,” said Bilawal.