ISLAMABAD  -  Former president Asif Ali Zardari Monday shunned rumours that he was being controlled through money laundering cases.

Speaking briefly to journalists after appearing before the Federal Investigation Agency investigators along with sister Faryal Talpur, he said: “Oh ho ho ho. Who is saying this (that they are controlling me through the money laundering cases)?”

The Pakistan People’s Party co-Chairman said the cases were filed during Nawaz Sharif’s term as prime minister. “The cases were prepared during Miyan Sahb’s (honorific for Nawaz Sharif) tenure. It was done in front of Miyan Sahb,” he said with a wide smile on his face.

Asked about the questions asked by the FIA investigators, he said: “They can ask whatever they want. (We have to see) what is the reality.”

The FIA is investigating 32 people in relation to money laundering from fake accounts, including Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur. Zardari’s close aide Hussain Lawai was arrested last month in connection with the probe.

More than 20 ‘benami (unnamed)’ accounts at some private banks were opened in 2013, 2014 and 2015 from where alleged transactions worth billions of rupees were made.

The amount, according to FIA, is black money gathered from various kickbacks, commissions and bribes.

Due to the past bitterness, the PPP and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz have failed to form a joint opposition against the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

They voted together in the speaker and deputy speaker’s elections in the National Assembly this month but parted way in the prime minister’s election. The PPP abstained from the election, making it a one-sided contest for Imran Khan who received 176 votes against the 172 required for simple majority.

For the September 4 presidential elections too, the two parties are poles apart. Due to the division of the opposition parties, three are in the race for the presidential election to replace incumbent Mamnoon Hussain who completes his term on September 9.

PPP’s Aitzaz Ahsan and PTI’s Arif Alvi submitted their nomination papers while the PML-N and the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal are backing Maulana Fazlur Rehman for the top slot.

Earlier, Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur appeared before FIA in money laundering case against them. Zardari’s lawyer Farooq H Naik and PPP leaders Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani, Sherry Rehman and Aitzaz Ahsan accompanied them.

Officials said the accused recorded their statements. Both the former president and his sister were questioned for more than 30 minutes in the multi-billion rupee scam.

Later, addressing a news conference, PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira claimed the FIA officials did not hand over a questionnaire to the party’s co-chairman.

“Asif Ali Zardari was not even questioned once by the FIA people. Faryal Talpur will answer all questions. Asif Ali Zardari appeared before the FIA after receiving the summons”, Kaira, flanked by Nayyar Bokhari, Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmed and Aamir Fida Piracha, said.

The PPP central Punjab President said Zardari had nothing to do with Zardari Group since 2008. “When he became the President in 2008, Asif Ali Zardari detached himself from Zardari Group,” he said. Kaira claimed at the same time multiple modus operandi were used to pressurise the PPP.

He rejected the PML-N claim that the PPP was being pressurised not to support former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s party.

Also, the PPP yesterday asked the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority to take immediate stern action against some private television channels for broadcasting ‘fabricated and false news reports’ against Zardari.

Secretary General PPP Parliamentarians Farhatullah Babar wrote a letter addressed to the Chairman PEMRA drawing his attention to the reports which were factually ‘wrong and fictitious.’

The letter reads: “Former President of Pakistan and President Pakistan People’s Party parliamentarians Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur appeared before the FIA investigation team in their office in G-13 Islamabad today (August 27, 2018).”

The letter also reads: “It is also wrong to say that both Zardari and Faryal Talpur were handed over questionnaires. No such questionnaires were given to them. Even Senator Farooq Naek who is the focal person for Zardari and Faryal Talpur is the matter of investigation of the case has not been given any questionnaire.”

 

SHAFQAT ALI