As the money laundering investigation starts unraveling the dark details of how Pakistan’s wealth was illegally smuggled out to various bank accounts in different countries around the world, some influential people and big names in politics are starting to feel uneasy and panic is beginning to set in.
Reasons for Zardari to worry
The investigation officer probing the money laundering case involving billions of rupees has requested the banking court for more time to present the final challan. A special banking court heard the money laundering case on Tuesday where former president Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur and Anwar Majeed’s sons Zulqarnain and Ali Majeed were also present. The former president, his sister and close-aides are accused of money laundering and questionable transactions worth over Rs35 billion to foreign countries through fake bank accounts.
During the proceedings, the investigation officer hinted at a big breakthrough in the investigation. The Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) investigation team has intimated that the final challan would be subject to the findings of the joint investigation team (JIT) probing the money laundering case. The challan would be submitted as soon as the investigation is complete, said the FIA team.
Zardari arrived at the court amid tight security, however, the hearing was adjourned till November 13 as the concerned judge was on leave. The banking court had ordered all those named in the case to ensure their appearance before the court. Former Pakistan Stock Exchange chairperson Hussain Lowai, Anwar Majeed and Abdul Ghani Majeed are also amongst the suspects in the case pertaining to money laundering through 29 fake bank accounts. The FIA is investigating 32 people for money laundering from benami accounts, including Zardari and Talpur.
The prime suspect of the case, Lowai and suspect Abdul Ghani were also presented by the jail officials and an application was filed for the exemption of Anwar. The hearing was also attended by Nadia Gabol, Imtiaz Shaikh, Nasir Hussain and other Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leaders. Several members of the Peoples Lawyers Forum were also present to welcome the former president.
The investigation officer submitted an application requesting an extension for submission of the final challan. In his application, the officer maintained that the investigation was still under way and the team was expecting progress in the investigation. More accounts related to the money laundering scandal have surfaced, the officer said.
The JIT inquiry for the money laundering case is also ongoing and the final challan will be presented going on as soon as the investigation is complete. The application was made part of the record.
Farooq H Naik, the counsel for former president Zardari, also could not attend the hearing due to his engagement at a conference in Geneva.
Some chaos was witnessed as the former president entered the court; journalists and the court staff were pushed aside while PPP workers tried to get close to Zardari. Every worker was keen to take a picture with the former president. They could be seen taking selfies with the former president inside the courtroom.
The presence of unauthorised personnel during the time the former president was attending the hearing raised security concern issues for the court which increased as people were seen coming up in large groups.
The dead billionaire
In a series of bizarre events relating to illegal transactions through fake bank accounts, billions of rupees were discovered on Monday in four bank accounts of a man who died over four years ago in Karachi.
Muhammad Iqbal Ansari, a resident of Shadman Town, had died on May 9, 2014. He was buried at Sakhi Hassan graveyard.
However, fake bank accounts had been opened in his name after his death. Bank transactions involving around Rs4.6 billion have taken place since then, sources told The Express Tribune.
Details regarding the scam unearthed when a JIT, formed by the Supreme Court to investigate bank accounts involved in money laundering, sent a notice to the deceased to appear before the investigators.
Enemy of my enemy is my friend
Former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday sent a message of reconciliation to former president and Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari.
The message was sent through Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Moulana Fazlur Rehman.
The PML-N supremo while responding to the Zardari’s grievance that the cases against him were made in Sharif’s tenure, asked the JUI-F chief to convey his message that he didn’t make cases against the PPP co-chairman.
Nawaz Sharif further said that he had no knowledge of cases against the ex-president.
Sources said that Fazlur Rehman had been trying to neutralize misunderstandings between the PPP and the PML-N for the last couple of days so that the grand opposition could devise a strategy against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government.
On Sunday, taking a jibe at Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led (PTI) government over its incompetency to run the state affairs smoothly, the PPP co-chairman had urged the opposition to table an unanimous resolution against the ‘unfit’ govt.
Terming Prime Minister Imran Khan as ‘selected’, the former president had asserted that neither incumbent government can work nor it can run country smoothly.
Zardari also lambasted National Accountability Bureau while stating that the premier anti-graft watchdog is summoning servants of those accused of corruption. Zardari stated that he was raising questions on NAB’s chairman way of thinking and manner of work.
The ex-president had said that he wasn’t beneficiary of National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). “Other parties including Muttahida Qaumi Movement benefited from the NRO. May be, Nawaz Sharif had benefited too”, Zardari was quoted as saying.
“Our police expired when Nawaz Sharif assumed charge as country’s premier”, asserted Zardari while calling for heading in the right direction. Zardari had also termed Islamabad a ‘city of conspiracies’.
Advice from Federal Minister for Information
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said on Tuesday that Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari should now prefer to meet legal experts rather than politicians.
In a tweet over Zardari’s meeting with JUI-F chief Maulana Fazalur Rehman, he said that Zardari would realize the importance of this free of cost advice in days not weeks.
The minister said that the governments could not be removed through resolutions, as for doing this votes are required. The minister remarked that Asif Zardari has only currency notes as he has lost votes for the sake of earning currency notes.