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  • Aug 30th, 2018
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The Supreme Court Wednesday directed former President Asif Ali Zardari, former Chief of Army Staff General Pervez Musharraf (retd) and former Attorney General for Pakistan Malik Abdul Qayyum to file comprehensive statements regarding assets and bank accounts owned by them and their spouses during the last 10 years.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, was hearing a petition of Feroz Shah Gilani, president Lawyers Foundation for Justice, regarding the recovery of losses suffered by national exchequer due to controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).

It was contended in the petition that Musharraf subverted the Constitution by declaring emergency followed by the promulgation of the NRO, through which criminal and corruption cases against politicians, including Zardari, were 'arbitrarily withdrawn', causing huge financial losses to national exchequer.

Advocate Major Akhtar Shah (retd), appearing on behalf of General Pervez Musharraf (retd) submitted unsigned and unattested statement of former army chief's immoveable and moveable property and bank accounts abroad.

According to the statement, Musharraf owns one apartment worth AED 5.4 million in Dubai, a Mercedes car model 2015, worth AED 230,000, a Tahoe Jeep model 2017, worth AED 150,000, an Impala car model 2018, worth AED 130,000. He has two bank accounts - Union National Bank Dubai, UAE, having an amount AED 92,100, and United Bank, 2, Brook Street, London, having an amount of 21,550 pounds - and shares of Dana Gas worth AED 268,653.

The Chief Justice said if all salaries of Musharraf are put together even then with that amount an apartment in Dubai could not be purchased. The CJP inquired from Musharraf's counsel how he has purchased this expensive flat. He further asked whether Musharraf has declared these assets in his tax returns. Advocate Major Akhtar Shah (retd) said that he will confirm about it after inquiring from his client.

The Chief Justice said that Musharraf must appear before this court and explain about his assets. Akhtar Shah told the court that when Musharraf left Pakistan then he delivered lectures and did programmes across the world to earn a lot of money.

The Chief Justice remarked if so much money could be earned through lectures after the retirement, adding; "I will also do the same after retirement."

The Chief Justice told the counsel, "We also need the details of his [Musharraf] income and the immoveable and moveable assets and bank accounts in Pakistan."

The court said that former President Asif Ali Zardari filed the affidavit of his properties and accounts in and outside Pakistan. But he needs to disclose the creation of trust and beneficial ownership of any property and the bank accounts opened in and outside Pakistan in his name, and in the names of his children and spouse Benazir Bhutto Shaheed. The CJP said the children were dependent on their father in 2007.

Asif Zardari on August 27 filed an affidavit in the apex court, saying that he owns neither any moveable or immovable property nor any bank account outside Pakistan.

The one-page affidavitsaid, "I Asif Ali Zardari son of late Hakim Ali Zardari do hereby solemnly affirm and state; I am respondent No. 4 in the petition, that I neither own any moveable or immovable property nor I have any bank account outside Pakistan as of today (August 27, 2018)."

Advocate Farooq H Naek appearing of behalf of Zardari said in the assets case his client remained in jail for nine years and was acquitted on merit. Justice Ijazul Ahsan, a member of the bench, remarked if there are allegations against anyone then he should provide information in his defense, adding the stigma should be removed.

The judge asked the counsel that his client was asked to provide certain information of immoveable and moveable assets remained in his possession directly or through Trust during the last 10 years and how those were sold or gifted or disposed of. The people of Pakistan are entitled to know about their leaders, Justice Ijaz added.

The Chief Justice inquired whether his client has bank account in Switzerland. The counsel replied that he doesn't know. When Farooq H Naek said that ex-president remained in jail for 9 years away from his wife and children, the Chief Justice said the imprisonment has no nexus with the disclosure of assets and accounts.

Justice Ijaz said: "We want voluntarily and honestly clear disclosure of assets for the 10 years. We are not confronting or alleging anything against you." Justice Umar Atta Bandial said according to National Accountability Bureau report, appeals in five assets cases are pending in the high courts so it is not past and closed transaction.

"Your affidavit is only concerned with the assets 'as of today' and this creates doubts; therefore, you [Zardari] need to explain whether you were beneficial owner of some properties and trustee of the companies as well." The case was adjourned for three weeks.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2018

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