Pakistan court orders release of ailing ex-President Zardari

Former President Asif Ali Zardari, second left, the widower of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was earlier arrested in a multi-million-dollar money laundering case. (AFP)
Updated 11 December 2019

Pakistan court orders release of ailing ex-President Zardari

  • Former President Asif Ali Zardari has been accused of having dozens of bogus bank accounts
  • Pakistan’s anti-graft body has arrested several politicians and businessmen on corruption charges since Imran Khan took office last year

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani court ordered on Wednesday that ailing former President Asif Ali Zardari be released on bail on medical grounds, so that he can seek medical treatment at a hospital of his choice in the country.
The development came about five months after Zardari, the widower of the country’s assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was arrested by Pakistan’s anti-graft body in a multi-million-dollar money laundering case.
Shortly after the court order, Zardari’s son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who heads the key opposition Pakistan People’s Party, claimed that the days of the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan were numbered. He told reporters that once he recovers, his father will launch a campaign to oust Khan’s government.
Former President Zardari, a lawmaker in the lower house of Parliament, has been accused of having dozens of bogus bank accounts, a charge he denies, saying he was being politically victimized by Khan’s government. Since coming to power, Khan has pledged that his government would make good on his election campaign promise to fight corruption on all fronts.
Zardari, who was arrested in June, was expected to be freed later on Wednesday.
Pakistan’s anti-graft body has arrested several politicians and businessmen on corruption charges since Khan took office last year after winning a narrow majority in parliamentary elections.
Khan’s predecessor, Nawaz Sharif, was removed from office by the country’s Supreme Court over corruption allegations in 2017. Sharif is currently undergoing medical tests in London after being released on bail on medical grounds.
Sharif and Zardari are longtime political rivals but their parties have vowed to launch protests against Khan’s government over increasing inflation and a spike in prices of essential foods.
Zardari became president in 2008, after Pakistan’s former military dictator Pervez Musharraf was forced to resign. Zardari’s wife Benazir Bhutto served twice as a prime minister before being killed by the Taliban in 2007. Zardari served as Pakistan’s president until 2013.


Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong arrested for 2019 ‘unlawful assembly’

Updated 24 September 2020

Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong arrested for 2019 ‘unlawful assembly’

  • The 23-year-old pro-democracy figure said on Twitter he was being held for violating the “draconian anti-mask law”
HONG KONG: Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong was arrested on Thursday in relation to a protest at the height of the city’s pro-democracy unrest last year, his lawyer said.
The detention of the city’s most high-profile dissident is the latest in a string of arrests of government critics and comes after China imposed a sweeping new national security law on Hong Kong in late June.
He was arrested for “unlawful assembly” over a 2019 demonstration against a government ban on face masks that was imposed before the coronavirus pandemic, his lawyer said.
The 23-year-old pro-democracy figure said on Twitter he was also being held for violating the “draconian anti-mask law,” which has since been ruled unconstitutional.
Wong’s lawyer told AFP he was arrested when he reported to a police station concerning another case against him, for which he is currently on trial.
“Wong is accused of participating in an unlawful assembly on October 5 last year, when hundreds marched to oppose an anti-mask ban the government rolled out,” lawyer Jonathan Man said.
The march that day came after much of the city had ground to a halt with the subway suspended and many shops and malls shuttered following a night of violence.
Hundreds of protesters, almost all masked, staged the unsanctioned demonstration through the popular shopping district of Causeway Bay, a day after the city’s leader Carrie Lam outlawed masks by invoking colonial-era emergency powers not used for half a century.
The act of resistance came after a night of widespread chaos as hardcore protesters trashed dozens of subway stations, vandalized shops with mainland China ties, built fires and blocked roads. Many chanted “No rioters, only tyranny” and other popular protest slogans.
At the time of the march, Hong Kong had already been battered by four months of increasingly violent pro-democracy protests.