LAHORE - PPP’s legal minds yesterday advised Asif Ali Zardari not to appear before FIA which has summoned the PPP supremo and his sister Faryal Talpur in connection with a money laundering case for Wednesday (today).

The investigation agency has asked the two leaders to appear before the investigation authorities to record their statements on charges of money laundering through benami accounts.

Pakistan Stock Exchange Chairman Hussain Lawai who is stated to be a close friend of Asif Ali Zardari is already in FIA’s custody in connection with the case.

Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday chaired a party meeting at Bilawal House Lahore, also attended by Senior PPP lawyers including Aitzaz Ahsan, Sardar Latif Khosa, Farooq H Naik and Nayyar Bukhari.

His lawyers briefed the PPP leader on the legal options available with him and reportedly advised that he and his sister could evade the FIA investigation team at this stage of investigation. Sources privy to the meeting said that Farooq H Naik will represent the two leaders on Wednesday (today).

Senior PPP leader Ch Manzoor who attended Tuesday’s meeting told this paper that PPP leader will appear before the FIA “as and when needed”. 

Also, there are reports that FIA has decided not to arrest Asif Ali Zardari and Faryal Talpur till the completion of preliminary investigation into the case.

The Supreme Court has also summoned the two leaders on July 12 in connection with the same case. But it is not clear as yet whether or not they would be appearing before the court.

The issue of Zardari’s name being placed on the ECL also came under discussion during the meeting which termed the two developments a pre-poll rigging close to the July 25 vote.

The move comes following Supreme Court orders directing the Interior Ministry to place the names of all the accused in the money laundering case. 

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Syed Khurshid Shah, Aitzaz Ahsan, Farhatullah Babar, Farooq H Naik, Sardar Latif Khosa, Nayyar Hussain Bokhari, Sherry Rehman, Moula Bakhsh Chandio, ex-Sindh chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, Navid Qamar, former Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Ch Manzoor, Rehman Malik, Makhdoom Ahmad Mehmood and Mustafa Nawaz Khokar were also present in the meeting.

The meeting also pondered over issues relating to party’s election campaign and administrations efforts aimed at hampering the electioneering.

Later, in a media briefing at Bilawal House, Ch Aitzaz Ahsan described the development a pre-poll rigging and an attempt at character assassination of Asif Zardari in the middle of electioneering.

Aitzaz said the name of Zardari had been placed at the ECL without any charge or solid evidence. He said it came as a great surprise for the PPP leaders and party workers.

Aitzaz further stated that Nawaz Sharif kept shuffling between London and Lahore but his name was not placed on the ECL. “If Nawaz was facilitated being former PM, Asif Zardari is also a former President”, he said, adding, that Nawaz’s name was placed on the ECL when he was in London.

Demanding removal of DG FIA from his position, Aitzaz said that DG FIA’s brother was contesting election from Mityari (Karachi) and he could influence the election results. 

Speaking on the occasion, Farhatullah Babar alleged that PPP candidates were being pressurised to change their loyalties.

In this connection, he mentioned the names of Colonel Mughees from DG Khan and Major Shehzad and Colonel Abid from Sindh.