ISLAMABAD, June 30: An accountability court of Islamabad on Tuesday issued bailable arrest warrants against former president Asif Ali Zardari and started the process of declaring former premier Nawaz Sharif a proclaimed offender in a reference accusing them and ex-prime minister Yousuf Raza Gillani of receiving luxury vehicles and gifts from Toshakhana.
A National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor submitted a compliance report to Accountability Judge Asghar Ali stating that the bureau forwarded arrest warrants against Nawaz Sharif, who is in London, through the Foreign Office.
Observing that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader is not joining the trial proceedings intentionally, the judge issued directives for starting the process of declaring him a proclaimed offender over perpetual absence from the hearing.
The courts make proclamation under Section 87 of Criminal Code of Procedure to inform people named in different cases that they are required to appear within in a month otherwise they will be declared proclaimed offenders. The court ruled that Nawaz has till August 17 to appear otherwise he will be declared as an absconder in the case.
Senator Farooq H Naek, who represented the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman, moved an application on behalf of his client requesting the court to grant him exemption from personal appearance in today’s hearing due to the coronavirus fears. He said Zardari, being a senior citizen, can’t turn up because of the pandemic.
This is a criminal case as Asif Zardari will have to show up, the judge observed, asking if the former president was diagnosed with the disease. The counsel replied that people will gather on the court premises because of the PPP leader’s appearance, putting not only themselves but him at potential risk of catching the contagion.
Prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar said it is up to the administration to prevent people from gathering, requesting the judge to not extend any concession to the former president and demanding his arrest warrants.
The NAB prosecutor, on the other hand, said that they will have to arrest Zardari to bring him to court. He will never come himself. He said the court gave Yousuf Raza Gillani exemption from personal appearance, due to which his counsel has not even turned up before the court, pleading with the court to withdraw the exemption granted to him. – DNA