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ISLAMABAD: A prosecution witness on Thursday told the Accountability Court that he did not produce any document before it, showing that the former president Asif Ali Zardari had requested for relaxation of rules and procedures of Toshakhana.

The Toshakhana is an official treasury where gifts from foreign dignitaries or heads of states are deposited.

The Accountability Court-III Judge, Syed Asghar Ali, while hearing the Toshakhana case filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against Zardari, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, former prime minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani, and others, completed cross-examination of prosecution witness, Zubair Siddiqui, a former official of the Cabinet Division.

The NAB had filed the Toshakhana reference against the former president, two former prime ministers and others for allegedly acquiring three vehicles including BMW 750 Li model 2005, Lexus Jeep model 2007 received as gift from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and BMW 760 Li model 2008 from Libya - from Toshakhana in violation of rules and regulations.

At the start of the hearing, the associate of Zardari’s counsel and counsel of Abdul Ghani Majeed, filed separate applications before the court seeking grant of one-day exemption to their clients from personal appearance before it, which the court approved.

Farooq H Naek, Zardari’s counsel during the cross-examination, asked Zubair Siddiqui that did he produce any document before the court showing that Zardari had requested the Cabinet Division for relaxation of rules and procedure of Toshakhana?

The witnessed replied in the negative.

To a another question, the witness said that he has not produced any document containing request of Zardari to the Cabinet Division or the Prime Minister’s Secretariat that the vehicles be sold to him after relaxation of Toshakhana’s rules and procedure.

It is correct that I have not produced any document showing Zardari’s request for retention of vehicles on payment of 15 percent of assessed value, while replying to another query of Naek.

The witness volunteered that it is not in the procedure that the president can retain vehicles as procedure do not allow it.

It is correct that in 2008, Zardari was never officially informed by the Cabinet Division that the rule do not allow him to retain vehicles, he said.

He told the court that Toshakhana is a subordinate department of the Cabinet Division. The Cabinet Division is part of government having its own secretary, he said, adding that the Cabinet Division is headed by the prime minister.

The witnessed informed the court that the assessment of the vehicles was carried out by the Cabinet Division.

The accused, Zardari had no role to play in getting the vehicles assessment and reassessment which was done by the Cabinet Division through various sources.

It is correct that the Cabinet Division calculated retention cost of the vehicles on the basis of assessment and reassessment, he said.

He said that the summary of relaxation of Toshakhana rules and procedures was sent by the cabinet secretary.

It is correct that the summary for retention of vehicles by Zardari in relation of rules and procedures of Toshakhana was moved by cabinet secretary, he said.

I have not produced any notification before the court regarding my posting in Toshakhana, he further told the court.

The court adjourned the hearing of Toshakhana case till February 4th after Zardari’s counsel completed cross-examination of the witness.

The lawyers of other accused will cross-examine the witness during the next hearing.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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