ISLAMABAD - Expressing dissatisfaction, the Supreme Court Wednesday rejected the affidavits of two former presidents Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf and Asif Ali Zardari, and ordered them to submit details of their last 10 years’ assets – including those stashed abroad.
The top court ruled that Pakistan People’s Party Co-Chairperson Asif Zardari shall also submit the details whether he owns or remains member of any trust. It also expressed its intention to determine if Zardari is honest and sagacious to sit in the Parliament.
In its direction to Musharraf, the court told the former military ruler to submit last 10 years’ complete detail of his family’s domestic and foreign assets.
The same directions of submitting assets details were also issued to former Attorney General Malik Abdul Qayyum.
The top court directed all the three to submit their affidavits under oath within next three weeks.
The directions were issued after a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan heard the petition seeking recovery of money from the beneficiaries of National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) 2007.
During the course of hearing, Zardari’s counsel Farooq H Naek informed the bench that his client had been imprisoned for nine years in different cases whereas none of the 40 prosecution witnesses recorded statement against him, hence, no allegations were proven against Zardari.
When Naek claimed that all the cases against Zardari had been decided, Justice Bandial remarked that the decisions of those cases had not attained finality since the appeals on accountability court decision were pending adjudication in superior courts.
Justice Ahsan remarked that the court was not probing the affidavit rather it wanted Zardari to submit details of his source of income and assets of last ten years.
When Naek objected to the bench’s intention of seeking details of his client’s assets, the chief justice remarked that Asif Zardari was not a common person rather he was a public office holder, adding this court desired to examine his honesty under Article 62(1)(f) of the constitution.
The chief justice further observed that PPP leader would get a clean chit if he would be cleared from the allegations against him and this would benefit him politically.
He further observed that Zardari’s imprisonment could not be translated into an exemption from disclosing his assets.
The CJP asked Naek whether Zardari had any account in Switzerland or if he had any account in the name of his slain wife Benazir Bhutto Shaheed or his children.
Naek responded that he would make submissions in this regard after instructions from his client. He however contended that the instant petition was filed on mere press clipping and media trial had started against his client and he was again being dragged to the courts despite earlier serving imprisonment for no legal reason.
The other day Zardari had submitted an affidavit before the top court stating he had no assets either in the country or abroad.
During the hearing, Musharraf’s counsel Akhtar Shah submitted an affidavit on behalf of his client wherein it was stated that the former dictator owned an apartment worth 5.4 million Dirham in downtown Dubai.
The chief justice observed that if all the salaries of former army chief are added, it will be less than this amount.
The affidavit further stated that Musharraf owns three vehicles, including a 2015 model Mercedes worth 230,000 Dirham, a 2017 model Tahoe Jeep worth 150,000 Dirham and a 2018 model Chevrolet Impala worth 130,000 Dirham.
Besides this, Musharraf holds three foreign bank accounts wherein 92,100 Dirham, 21,550 Pounds and 268,653 Dirham are deposited.
Defending Musharraf’s assets, the counsel said that his client bought these foreign assets after stepping down as the president. He also said that his client had earnings through delivering lectures in foreign countries.
When the CJP questioned about the ownership of the farmhouse situated in Chak Shahzad in Islamabad, the counsel said it was also owned by his client.
The bench directed Musharraf to submit details of his own and his family’s domestic assets.
In related development, the top court issued a show-cause notice to ARY News host Arshad Sharif for discussing sub-judice matter on his talk show titled ‘Power Play’.
The CJP had taken a suo motu notice regarding the Sharif’s programme dated August 28 whereby Zardari’s affidavit regarding his assets was discussed.
Sharif in his show had allegedly tried to create the impression that Zardari had submitted a false affidavit regarding his assets in the top court.
The chief justice reprimanded the anchor, who appeared in the court, saying the comments made in the programme were prejudiced to court proceedings and tantamount to interference in the court matters.
“Are you a judge? How much do you know about the law? What is your locus standi in the case? Show us from any book of law or journalism that a sub-judice matter could be discussed in media. Where are media ethics? Who gave you the right to sit and insult people at you will?” chief justice grilled Arshad Sharif.
Sharif responded he was a journalist and it was his right to pose questions. However, the bench observed that no one could be scandalised.
The chief justice asked if the programme was ‘sponsored’ and on whose directions it was conducted. Justice Ahsan observed that the programme was simply a media trial.
The top court also issued notices to attorney general, Pakistan Broadcasters Association and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra). The Pemra is directed to present clips of the programme Power Play in court.