ISLAMABAD  -   The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Thursday granted interim bail to PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur till April 10 in a case pertaining to laundering of billions of rupees through fake bank accounts.

A division bench of the IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani conducted hearing of the petitions moved by the leaders of PPP through their counsels and cited the chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and investigative officer as respondents.

The bench granted the bail to Zardari and his sister against surety bond worth of Rs1 million each. However, the bench accepted Zardari’s request to submit the amount of surety bond in the form of cash.

A total of five applications were filed by the PPP leaders’ counsel team – four by Zardari and one by Talpur. The petitions sought the pre-arrest bail to pre-empt any attempt by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to take them into custody. The IHC granted bail against surety bonds of Rs1 million each per each application.

The IHC dual bench also issued notices to the NAB to submit its response until April 10.

Zardari along with his sister and lawyer Farooq Naek turned up before the court amid tight security.

Strict security measures were taken ahead of their arrival at the high court. Rangers personnel were posted inside and outside the high court building and all roads leading to the IHC were blocked for traffic.

In their petitions, they prayed to the court to restrain the bureau from arresting them.

In the identical petitions, the former president stated that NAB had served a call-up notice on him to appear on March 20 before a combined investigation team to record his statement with respect to investigation into fake bank accounts.

He added that in order to safeguard himself from mala fide and illegal arrest at the hands of NAB and law enforcing agencies of the country and to enable him to surrender before the competent court of law, he had filed a constitutional petition before the Sindh High Court for protective bail. The SHC on March 19 approved protective bail for him for 10 days, he said.

Zardari said that he also appeared before the NAB team which after interrogating him for one hour handed him a questionnaire with the direction to submit reply to the same within ten days.

The petitioner continued that he apprehend his arrest at the hands of the respondents on the basis of call-up notices.

Therefore, Zardari requested the court to grant him bail before arrest and in the meanwhile, interim bail before arrest may be granted to the petitioner.

He also prayed to the court to direct respondent NAB authorities to submit list of all cases against the petitioner.