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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC), on Wednesday, extended pre-arrest bail to former president and co-chairperson of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Asif Ali Zardari in a call-up notice issued by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) asking details of his alleged ownership of an apartment in New York.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Aamer Farooq heard the case and extended pre-arrest bail to Zardari till August 24.

The court also granted one-day exemption to the former president from his personal appearance due to his illness.

The IHC bench directed the NAB to submit a written response regarding the matter and deferred the proceedings till August 24.

The former president moved the court through his counsel Farooq H Naek and cited Chairman NAB, DG Rawalpindi and the investigation officer as respondents in this matter. His medical report from the Ziauddin Hospital has also been attached with the plea.

The anti-corruption watchdog had issued a notice, along with a questionnaire, to the PPP co-chairperson on June 15 seeking details of the apartment he allegedly owns in Belaire, 524 East 72nd Street, 37F, Manhattan, New York.

In the petition, Zardari's counsel adopted that the notice is baseless and the allegations made therein are based on malafide intentions so as to malign him.

He submitted that the petitioner is not in ownership of any property in New York including [the] apartment as of date mentioned in the notice.

He contended that to cause harassment to the petitioner and to politically damage his reputation, respondent NAB had issued several call-up notices to Zardari in different matters and all those notices were assailed at different forums including at the IHC.

The petition also mentioned that Zardari was suffering from several ailments and his earlier confinement had made his medical condition worse and the former president was currently under the special care of doctors who were monitoring his health.

The counsel maintained that the petitioner filed the instant petition to safe guard himself against humiliation, harassment, illegal detention, arrest and lodging of false reference by the respondents on illegal, false, baseless, fabricated and concocted inquiry and investigation for obvious malafide reasons and ulterior motives.

He argued that even otherwise, the said call-up notice under Section 19 of NAO, 1999 and questionnaire is without jurisdiction, illegal malafide, violative of provisions of the aforementioned Section of NAO, judgments of the Supreme Court of Pakistan as well as fundamental rights of the petitioner as guaranteed under the Constitution of Pakistan.

Therefore, he prayed before the court to grant Zardari bail before arrest till the final conclusion of the trial, and in the meanwhile, interim bail before arrest by be granted. He also requested the court to declare the said call-up notice issued by the NAB as illegal, malafide and unconstitutional.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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