Pak SC rejects affidavits submitted by Zardari & Musharraf, seeks assets details of past 10 years

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Islamabad: The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected the affidavits submitted by former presidents Asif Ali Zardari and retired Gen Pervez Musharraf, and ex-attorney general Malik Mohammad Qayyum regarding assets owned by them in Pakistan and abroad.

While hearing a petition regarding the 2007 National Recon­ciliation Ordinance (NRO), a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar ordered the three men to submit complete details of their assets and bank accounts held inside and outside the country in the past 10 years within three weeks.

The trio has also been directed to disclose before the court the details of assets of their spouses and children both in the country as well as abroad.

The counsel representing Zardari, Farooq H. Naek, argued before the bench today that the PPP co-chairman had spent nine years in jail but “nothing could be proven” against him. He said Zardari should get some sort of compensation for the nine-year prison sentence.

At this, the CJP responded that Zardari could only achieve the reward in the form of clearance by the Supreme Court and that the prison sentence did not translate into an exemption from disclosing his assets.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan remarked that political leaders should get the “blemishes on [their reputation] removed”.

The bench asked the counsel whether Zardari ever held bank accounts in his name, or in the names of his wife — slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto — or children, in Switzerland. Naek replied that he would respond to the question after consulting Zardari.

Rejecting the affidavit submitted by the former president, the CJP then ordered Zardari to submit details of all his local and foreign assets since 2007, including whether he owns or is the beneficial owner of any trust, or is the direct or indirect owner or shareholder of any bank account

In his affidavit submitted on Tuesday, Zardari had affirmed that he owns neither moveable or immovable property nor any bank account outside Pakistan.

The affidavit was moved before the apex court which is hearing a petition of Advocate Feroz Shah Gilani, president of the Lawyers Foundation for Justice, in which he had named Musharraf, Zardari, Qayyum and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as respondents.

In his petition, Gilani had pleaded before the court to order recovery of huge amounts of public money wasted by the respondents through unlawful means against the backdrop of the NRO in 2007.

In his arguments, the lawyer representing Musharraf, Akhtar Shah, informed the court about the assets held by the former military dictator.

A statement of assets and liabilities submitted by Musharraf to the court stated that the only property he owned abroad is an apartment in Downtown Dubai worth 5.4 million dirhams.

According to the document, Musharraf owns three vehicles, including a 2015 model Mercedes worth 230,000 dirhams, a Tahoe Jeep 2017 model worth 150,000 dirhams and a Chevrolet Impala 2018 worth 130,000 dirhams.

He has three foreign bank accounts holding 92,100 dirhams, 21,550 pounds and 268,653 dirhams.

Justice Nisar, who was unconvinced by the details provided, wondered whether Musharraf could purchase the Dubai flat from “even the salary of his entire life”. He said Musharraf should appear before the court in person and explain his assets.

Shah maintained that Musharraf’s foreign assets are from his days after stepping down as the president.

The CJP asked the lawyer whether one could make so much money from giving lectures, which Musharraf is seen occasionally delivering.

“Why don’t I start giving lectures after retirement as well?” he wondered, tongue-in-cheek.

The top judge then asked who owned the farmhouse in the Islamabad suburb of Chak Shahzad, to which the counsel responded that it was owned by Musharraf.

The bench then ordered the counsel to submit details of assets held by Musharraf and his wife in Pakistan within three weeks.

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