Published On: Thu, Mar 21st, 2019
Published in Category: Corruption / Islamabad

Zardari, Bilawal record statements before NAB Islamabad in Park Lane corruption case

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ISLAMABAD: PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday appeared before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in Islamabad amid tight security to record their statements in the Park Land Estate corruption case.

After leaving the NAB office, Bilawal got out of his car to address his workers and the media and said that it was PPP’s “weakness” and “mistake” to not amend the “black law” of NAB.

“This was our mistake, this was our weakness that we did not change this black law which was introduced by a dictator,” he said to a chanting group of supporters. He added that the party would “wipe the Constitution” of every law that was introduced by a “dictator”.

“Whenever we make a speech in the National Assembly, we get a notice from a JIT (joint investigation team) or NAB or some other puppet institution,” Bilawal said and declared that he was not “scared of these notices, we are the followers of Benazir Bhutto”.

“We will keep challenging this puppet government, we will keep raising our voice against banned outfits,” he added and repeated his demand for the resignation of cabinet members that allegedly had the support of militant outfits. He did not name the people he was referring to.

Earlier, when the father-son duo had arrived at NAB’s office, party workers clashed with the security personnel after the former tried to force their way inside.

The entry of the PPP leaders in the NAB office building was delayed as the workers — who had been instructed by party leadership to reach the capital in order to “express solidarity” with the chairperson — surrounded their vehicles. Additional security personnel were summoned in order to disperse the workers so that Bilawal and Zardari can enter the NAB office building.

Prior to Bilawal and Zardari’s arrival, the roads leading to NAB’s Islamabad office, were blocked and workers were stopped at Nadra Chowk, alleged PPP leader Nayyar Bukhari. He further said that the administration would be responsible in case of any “incident”. “The workers are peaceful and are coming [to NAB’s office] to welcome their leader,” he insisted.

PPP workers, however, removed the blockades to reach NAB Islamabad office, after which police arrested seven to eight workers. PPP leader Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar expressed disappointment at the arrest of the PPP workers and accused the government of trying to bring a “one-party system”.

Prior to their arrival, Bilawal and Zardari, accompanied by other PPP leaders, met with their legal team at Zardari House.

A day earlier, Zardari had obtained a 10-day protective bail from the Sindh High Court.

The father-son duo had appeared before the watchdog in connection with an inquiry regarding an alleged loan obtained by the Park Lane Estate Company.

NAB claims that an inquiry was initiated against Park Lane Estate Company (Pvt) Ltd — a firm co-owned by Zardari and Bilawal — and government officials for alleged illegal transfer of forest land. The bureau states that an inquiry was authorised into allegations that land belonging to the Punjab forest department was illegally transferred by Capital Development Authority officials to Park Lane Estate Company, a Karachi-based real estate firm.

NAB had summoned them to appear before it in Rawalpindi on Dec 13 last year; however, only Zardari had appeared in person. Bilawal was represented by his lawyer.

According to Khokhar, who is also Bilawal’s spokesperson, the party chairperson had been summoned by NAB in connection with an inquiry into the loan allegedly obtained by the Park Lane firm. He claimed that Bilawal had become a minor shareholder of Park Lane Limited when he was only one year old. The company, he said, had been purchased by Zardari on July 31, 1989.

Khokhar added that Zardari had resigned from the directorship of this company when he assumed the office of the president of Pakistan in 2008. He said Bilawal had never served as a director and as a shareholder he had no involvement in the day-to-day affairs of the company.

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