KARACHI/ISLAMABAD  -    A banking court in Karachi on Friday transferred the money laundering case against former president Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur and others to Rawalpindi – granting an earlier request by the NAB.

Following the verdict, the court withdrew the interim pre-arrest bail granted to the former president, his sister and other suspects in the case.

The banking court had reserved its decision earlier this month after the graft watchdog had requested the court to transfer the case to an accountability court. Zardari and Talpur did not attend the hearing of the case on Friday; however, Hussain Lawai, Abdul Ghani Majeed and others named in the case were present.

Zardari had earlier objected to the transfer of the money laundering case from Karachi through his counsel Farooq H Naik. He had argued that the NAB was falsely interpreting the top court’s instructions and was trying to exert pressure on the defendants.

Giving his reaction while informally talking to newsmen here, Zardari said transferring the case from Karachi to Islamabad makes no difference to him. Responding to a question, he said: “I don’t know the motive for transferring the case from Karachi to Islamabad; only legal experts can tell.”

Commenting on the decision of the Banking Court, Adviser to Sindh Chief Minister on Information and Law Murtaza Wahab said they were not surprised with the decision as they were mentally prepared. He said the PPP would present its principled stance to people of Pakistan again and again. “If there is rule of law and supremacy of the constitution, why are there dual standards only for the PPP?” he asked. He said it was defined in the law that if a violation of law occurs in a city, it will be investigated by relevant authorities of the city where it occurred and cases will be filed in the jurisdiction of the same city, district or provincial courts. He said a story of fake accounts had been created against the PPP and all accounts were in Karachi. Why has the investigation been shifted to Islamabad and cases are being filed in Islamabad? he asked. It is against the spirit of law, he said.

According to the adviser, it is clear discrimination. “We had faced this situation in the past and would continue to record our protest against dual standards,” he said.

NAB SUMMONS

NAB on Friday summoned PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on March 20 in fake accounts case, private TV channels reported.  The anti-graft watchdog has issued notices to Asif Zardari and Bilawal. The notices stated that their statements need to be recorded as the investigation into fake accounts case is under way, so they must appear before the Investigation Team and record their statements.  The PPP chairman and co-chairman have been directed to bring along details of their companies and accounts. It is pertinent to mention here that the accused had to get interim bail after the banking court rejected their bails. In a statement issued in Islamabad, Bilawal’s spokesman Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar said that Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had not received any notice from the NAB.