Zardari barred from travel; arrest on the cards

Special Zardari barred from travel; arrest on the cards
An Exit Control List (ECL) seen by Arab News included names of former president Asif Ali Zardari, his son and PPP chairman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Zardari’s sister and Member of National Assembly, Faryal Talpur, Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, and former and current members of the provincial cabinet. (AFP/File)
Updated 28 December 2018

Zardari barred from travel; arrest on the cards

Zardari barred from travel; arrest on the cards
  • Joins other party leaders in being placed on Pakistan’s Exit Control List
  • Federal ‘regime’ wants to occupy the Sindh Government, his son, Bilawal, says

KARACHI: Legal experts and political analysts said on Friday that the arrests of leaders from Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was likely to take place in the coming weeks.
An Exit Control List (ECL) seen by Arab News lists the names of 172 individuals accused of using fake bank accounts for money laundering. These included the names of former president Asif Ali Zardari, his son and PPP chairman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Zardari’s sister and Member of National Assembly, Faryal Talpur, Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, and former and current members of the provincial cabinet.
“A strong 128-page report, detailing hundreds of fake accounts, hundreds of witnesses and thousands of bank transactions recommends filing of at least 16 references,” Shaukat Hayat, a senior lawyer dealing with cases related to banking courts and the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA) told Arab News.
He added that based on the findings of the Joint Investigation Team’s (JIT) report, it was pertinent for the government to put the names — related to the Rs35 billion money laundering case — on the ECL.
The accused, however, may appeal as General (R) Pervez Musharraf, Ayan Ali and Hussain Haqqani did when their names were put on ECL, he said.
Hayat argues that the Supreme Court will not issue arrest warrants but on the next hearing date on Monday, December 31, it may direct the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to investigate the case.
“When the NAB will start inquiry or file references under section 18, the Chairman NAB will be automatically empowered to issues arrest warrants for the accused, including Zardari, and this may happen before the trial court hearing on January 7,” Hayat said.
Mubashir Zaidi, a political analyst and host of Zara Hut Kay talk show which is aired on Dawn News, said that the move was expected. “The cabinet had accepted the placement of these names on JIT in its meeting two days earlier,” Zaidi, who says he had prior knowledge of the developments through his sources, told Arab News.
He added that the action is “in line with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s narrative” that it will uproot all corrupt people.
“Although the PPP terms it as political victimization, the JIT report looks very solid and it has certainly poses some solid questions for the PPP to answer. The PPP, in political statements, has rejected the report by calling it a pack of lies but now Asif Ali Zardari and Faryal Talpur will have to specifically respond in courts,” Zaidi said.
He said that the inclusion of CM Shah’s name on the ECL will put further pressure on the PPP. “It may also lead to a change of command at the CM House. However, it will be an inhouse change with another PPP man taking the charge,” Zaidi added.

Source: Federal Investigation Agency (FIA)

Imtiaz Alam, a senior journalist and a political analyst, however, says he doesn’t see any immediate change in the province. “Though, this action will bring two important political parties from Sindh and Punjab closer to give tough time to the PTI in parliament, making it hard for it to do legislation, it’s unlikely for it to leave any impact on the government in Sindh immediately,” he said.
He added that as the case was still in the initial stages of investigation, the CM may join the probe without losing his chair. “The PTI, however, intends to interfere in Sindh and if CM Sindh and other men of his cabinet named in JIT are arrested it will create a deadlock,” Alam told Arab News.
“My name has been deliberately placed in the ECL to pressurize the PPP leadership,” Rasheed Channa, spokesman CM House, told Arab News quoting CM Shah. “The subsidy on sugarcane was given in the light of the high court’s decision so naming Murad Ali Shah in the JIT and placing his name on ECL doesn’t merit,” Channa told Arab News.
Commenting on the travel ban, PPP vice president and Senator Sherry Rehman said that by placing Bilawal’s name on the ECL, the government of PTI has shown its face of victimization. “The names of entire family were placed on the ECL on the death anniversary of Shaheed Benazir,” Rehman said. She said by placing traveling bars on parliamentarians, the PTI has set another bad tradition.
“If you haven’t rigged enough in Sindh in general election, try it again,” Zardari said while addressing his party’s public gathering in the Ghotki city of Sindh on Friday.
“No one can scare or bow you and your leadership,” Zardari told workers in his relatively brief speech, after CM Shah’s address to the gathering where he had pledged that the “PPP wouldn’t let PTI occupy Sindh through unfair means.”
Meanwhile, Bilawal in his speech said that all efforts by the puppets are aimed at occupying the Sindh government. “Bhuttos are not afraid of ECL,” he said, adding that the cases are part of the political victimization.
“They have destroyed the institutions they have created money for themselves. There is a law that requires them to be on ECL,” Rasool Bux Raees, an analyst, told Arab News, adding that when powerful political forces are taken to task, they make noise and one should predict such noise in Sindh, too.
Hayat says free movement is the right of every citizen. However, if the government believes that sufficient evidences have been found against a person and if he/she goes out of country the litigation process may be impacted, the names are placed on the ECL.
Hayat recalls that when Zardari and Talpur’s names were placed on the ECL before the elections, the apex court had made it clear that no such orders had been issued.