LAHORE - The government holds former president Pervez Musharraf and the National Accountability Bureau responsible for the disappearance of original files of the SGS-Cotecna reference against Asif Ali Zardari, but said the future course of action against the Dubai-based PPP Co-Chairperson will be decided during the next few days in consultation with the lawyers after going through the detailed order of the Accountability Court.

Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid, who also holds the portfolio of law, while talking to The Nation on Thursday said that although dismissed in the absence of original records, it was a very strong case against Zardari which the PML-N government had instituted in 1998 in the light of solid proofs.

The acquittal of the former president is very unfortunate, he observed.

Asked when the government came to know about the disappearance of original files, the minister said: “During the reference proceedings”.

Q: Then why the government did not deem it fit to direct the NAB to seek adjournment of the reference as pursuing the case only on the basis of photocopies clearly meant facilitating the acquittal of the former president?

A: In that case the government would have been accused of shelving the matter. The court was in a better position to order the NAB to come up with original documents before proceeding further.

Q: Does the government still believe that the corruption charges on the basis of which the reference had been moved were well-founded?

A: It was the PML-N government that had instituted the reference because the documents on record spoke a lot.

We are determined to take all corruption cases to their logical conclusion. I am not referring to any particular case; I am talking of all cases.

Asked on what basis he was alleging that Musharraf was responsible for the disappearance of original case files, he said the dictator had used the cases against various leaders to get their support to cope with the situation after the overthrow of the PML-N government in 1999.

The dictator lacked constitutional, political and moral legitimacy and he used the pending cases as a bargaining chip to win support from various parties, he added.

Musharraf shelved cases to prevent political leaders from challenging the imposition of the 1999 Martial Law, he said.

He also pointed out the “facilities” given to Zardari during his detention.

The minister claimed that when the PML-N government was toppled, original files of the reference in question were all there.

Maybe Musharraf took the files with him after he was forced to quit under political pressure in 2008, he added.

He said that the infamous NRO had also been brought in with the same objective.

“How would you respond if somebody alleges that it was the friendly prosecution by the government that led to the dismissal of the reference against the former president,” he was asked.

The minister said the man who harboured such views was certainly unaware of the country’s history. He said everyone knew that when the PML-N government was overthrown the original files were there in the cupboards. But when the party returned to power as a result of the 2013 general elections, the files were not there, he added. Then on what basis the government was pursuing the case against Zardari, The Nation argued. The minister said the government could only try to establish its point of view. “We don’t interfere in court matters.”

When argued whatever the cause behind the dismissal of the reference it was the nation that was the ultimate loser, Senator Pervaiz Rashid said the blame could not be pinned on the PML-N government. He said Musharraf was responsible for the situation facing the country at present. The dictator was responsible for terrorist activities, power and gas loadshedding and the separatist movement in Balochistan, he concluded.