Press Trust Of India
Islamabad, 14 October
Pakistan’s former President Mr Asif Ali Zardari was today summoned by a court to appear before it on 29 October in relation to five corruption cases against him which were re-opened last week, compounding his legal woes.
Mr Zardari, 58, failed to submit a response in accordance with the court’s earlier order, upon which the bench took a recess to wait for his response.
Despite earlier notices from the court, officials of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), which is probing charges against Zardari, also failed to turn up for today’s hearing.
Meanwhile, newly appointed NAB chairman Mr Qamar Zaman Chaudhry took notice of the absence of officials from the hearing and issued instructions to ensure the implementation of the court’s order. He directed the Bureau’s prosecutor to appear for the hearing.
The court was also informed that Zardari had not complied with its earlier order, after which the bench issued another summons for him to appear on 29 October.
Taking suo motu notice, the accountability court’s judge Mr Bashir Ahmed had reopened five references against the former president.
Giving details of the cases, Express Tribune said that in July 2011, pronouncing its verdict in the 13-year-old graft case commonly known as the SGS reference an accountability court had absolved all accused, except Zardari.
In the SGS reference filed in 1997, it was alleged that then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and her spouse Zardari had received kickbacks in a pre-shipment contract between the Pakistani government and SGS.
They were accused of receiving kickbacks through offshore bank accounts of Schlegelmilch.
The case against Benazir Bhutto and her mother Nusrat Bhutto has lapsed following their deaths while six foreigners have been declared proclaimed offenders. The Contecna case involved an allegedly corrupt award for a contract for supervising pre-shipment at the Karachi port.
The contract was awarded to the Swiss company Cotecna in exchange for a bribe during Benazir Bhutto’s second term.
Both Benazir and Zardari were accused of taking a 6 per cent bribe on the revenue stream the Swiss company expected on the USD 131 million contract. A R Siddiqui, the sole accused, was acquitted in the case in September 2011, 14 years after the case was first filed.
Another case relates to ARY Traders for import of gold and silver causing alleged losses to public exchequer amounting to approximately Rs 18.2 million.
The illegal construction of the polo ground and other ancillary works at the Prime Minister House in violation of the rules and procedure and misuse of office by the accused is another pending reference.
In this case the court has acquitted Saeed Mehdi, while the case against Shafi Sehwani, the former chairman of Capital Development Authority, was withdrawn following his death, Express Tribune reported.