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ISLAMABAD: A prosecution witness on Thursday told Accountability Court hearing the Toshakhana case against former president Asif Ali Zardari, two former premiers Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani, Nawaz Sharif, and others that the Prime Minister can relax procedure regarding gifted vehicles in Toshakhana, an official treasury where gifts from foreign dignitaries or heads of state are deposited.

The NAB had filed the Toshakhana reference against former President Zardari, two former Prime Ministers, Nawaz Sharif and Gilani, and others for allegedly acquiring of three vehicles including BMW 750 Li model 2004, Toyota Lexus Jeep 472 model 2007 gifted by the embassy of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and BMW 760 LI model 2008 gifted by embassy of Libya and gifts from Toshakhana in violation of rules and regulations.

A prosecution witness, Nasir Khan, former section officer of the Cabinet Division, while recording his statement before Accountability Court-III judge Syed Asghar Ali said that Deputy Military Secretary (DMS) of Zardari telephonically told Toshakhana of the Cabinet Division that Zardari intends to retain gifted vehicles and also asked about the procedure for retaining of gifted vehicles.

He said that then he wrote a note on April 9, 2008 wherein, he mentioned the procedure and wrote that the prime minister can relax procedure and rules regarding Toshakhana.

Later, secretary cabinet send a summary to the Prime Minister Office for approval and relaxation of rules.

The associate of Zardari’s lead counsel, Gillani, and other accused’s counsel and NAB prosecutor Waseem Javed appeared before the court.

At the start of the hearing, Zardari and other accused counsel filed separate applications seeking one-day exemption of their client before the court, which the court approved.

The court after completing recording of statement of the witness adjourned hearing of the case till April 7.

According to the bureau, the evidence collected during the course of inquiry and investigation has established that the accused, Gilani in order to extend illegal benefit to the accused, Zardari and Sharif, illegally allowed the retention of vehicles gifted to them by various foreign states and dignitaries, which at that time belonged to the Central Pool of Cars, Cabinet Division, relaxing the procedure of Toshakhana, illegally.

The accused, Zardari and Sharif, had retained the said vehicles against the nominal payment of 15 percent of total value of the vehicles. The accused, Zardari, made the payment for vehicles, and duties of these vehicles through the accused, Khawaja Anwer Majid and Khawaja Abdul Ghani Majid, from ‘fake’ bank accounts.

The accused, Gilani, former prime minister and minister-in-charge Cabinet Division from 2008-2012 had ‘illegally’ relaxed the procedure for the acceptance and disposal of gifts, issued by the government through the Cabinet Division OM no9/8/2004 TK dated June 25, 2007.

According to these rules, “gifted vehicles shall not be allowed to be purchased by the recipients and be given to the Central Pool of Cars of the Cabinet Division.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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