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Zardari to appear on next hearing, Naek assures court

An accountability court on Monday summoned former president Asif Ali Zardari on December 23 in connection with five NAB references against him, which were re-opened by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in October this year.

The accountability court judge, Bashir Ahmad, while hearing the five references against former president Zardari, again issued notice to him to appear before the court on December 23. The court is likely to indict him in the polo-ground case during the next hearing.

When questioned about the continued absence of Zardari, his counsel Farooq H Naek told the court that his client was facing security threats due to which he could not appear before the court. To this, the judge said it was the prime responsibility of the government to provide security to citizens; therefore Zardari should approach the government in this regard. Naek assured the court that his client would appear before the court during the next hearing with appropriate security.

Naek said that former President had been indicted in all other cases apart from the polo-ground reference case in which he had not been charged. To this, the court said that Zardari must appear before the court in polo-ground case. The court accepted Zardari's immunity application for today's hearing.

Naek prayed to the court that there should be no retrial of the case and the proceedings of cases should resume in which charges had been framed.

The court also issued summons to the witnesses in three of the NAB references filed against former president Asif Ali Zardari including Societe Generale Surveillance (SGS), Cotecna, Ursus tractor and assets cases.

The court also ordered NAB to provide Zardari's counsel with the copies of the Cotecna reference case. The accountability court reopened NAB references against former President Asif Ali Zardari on October 11 and issued a notice to him to appear before the court on October 14. The references against the former president include; the alleged kickbacks from SGS PSI Company, grant of license to ARY Gold causing huge loss to national exchequer, illegal gratification and undue pecuniary advantage in the form of commission in purchase of URSUS tractors under the Awami Tractor Scheme, illegal award of contract to Cotecna for pre-shipment, assets beyond means and alleged illegal construction of polo-ground at PM House.

The references against former President Zardari were adjourned when he was elected President of Pakistan due to Constitutional immunity. All co-accused in the reference have already been acquitted, sources said.

Former president Pervez Musharraf had withdrawn all cases against Zardari under National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) in 2007. The Supreme Court had later cancelled the NRO and reopened all corruption cases against Zardari.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2013