Asif Ali Zardari, Yousaf Gilani indicted; Nawaz Sharif proclaimed offender by Pak court
A Pakistan anti-corruption court has indicted former President Asif Ali Zardari and former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani while declaring former premier Nawaz Sharif an absconder in the Toshakhana (gift depository) graft case that allegedly caused a heavy loss to the national exchequer.
Judge Asghar Ali in Islamabad also framed charges against Omni Group chairman Anwar Majeed and his son, Abdul Ghani Majeed in the case.
The court also sought details of the movable and immovable properties of Sharif, 70, who is in London for treatment, and asked all of the leaders accused in the case to be presented in court within seven days. It observed that the former Prime Minister’s properties will be frozen if he failed to appear before the court.
In the case, Sharif and Zardari have been accused by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) of illegally retaining expensive vehicles gifted to them by various foreign countries and dignitaries instead of depositing them in the Toshakhana.
Gilani, during his tenure as Prime Minister, facilitated Zardari in retaining the vehicles. The NAB said Zardari and Sharif retained the vehicles “against a nominal payment of 15 per cent of their total value through dishonest and illegal means for their personal benefit and interest”.
Zardari, Gilani and the father-son duo of Omani group pleaded not guilty to the charges in connection to the case. On the other hand, Sharif was declared a proclaimed offender after his case was separated from other suspects.
Gilani objected to the indictment, asserting he never carried out an action against the rules.
“Only a summary (for allowing the retention of vehicles) that came according to the law was approved. Had the summary been wrong, it would not have been moved,” he was quoted as saying.
In response, the court judge told him that action will be initiated as per law. “We are not yet discussing the merits of the case, or how the summary was moved and approved. You have to tell this to the court during the trial,” he said.
Earlier, the court had accepted NAB’s decision to seize two BMWs and a Lexus from Zardari and a Mercedes from Sharif.