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Asif Zardari-Faryal Talpur name not on ECL: CJP

13 July, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court put to rest on Thursday reports that Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur had been barred from leaving the country for their alleged involvement in suspicious transactions through 29 ‘benami’ accounts in mainstream banks.

As a two-member bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar resumed hearing of the suo motu notice into the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) probe of a Rs 35 billion money laundering scam, the bench clarified that neither was Zardari summoned in person nor was the brother-sister duo placed on the exit control list (ECL).

Contrary to the CJP’s statement on Thursday, caretaker Interior Minister Azam Khan had confirmed on Wednesday that the SC had directed the ministry to place Zardari and Talpur’s names on the ECL on Monday, and that the ministry had complied with the orders.

In Thursday’s hearing, the CJP also ordered the FIA to refrain from questioning both PPP leaders until after the July 25 polls. “Tomorrow no one should be able to make excuses that the elections have been rigged,” he said. However, before the elections, all suspects apart from Zardari and Talpur should be included in the investigation, he said. The defence counsels should have approached the apex court if they had reservations about the top court’s orders, he added. The CJP then inquired from the attorney general that if its order doesn’t mention Zardari’s placement on the ECL, how such reports were aired in the media. The chief justice added that only those persons were ordered to be on the no-fly list who have criminal cases registered against them. The bench also wondered that since Zardari was just a suspect, how could he be placed on the ECL. He also remarked that it will direct the FIA not to display bias against anyone during the investigation as it only seeks a transparent inquiry into the corruption scandal.

Zardari’s counsel Farooq Naek told media after the hearing that the bench observed that it does not want the election transparency affected. “This is all being done to bring a bad name to the PPP,” he claimed, referring to the mega scandal. He also clarified that the PPP supremo has no association with the Zardari Pvt Ltd – which is being probed by the FIA in the scam.

Naek said that he informed the court of their reservations against FIA’s joint investigation team head Najam Mirza, adding that the chief justice has assured them that he will keep these issues in mind. Answering a question, Naek blamed the media for creating a hype about the ECL issue. He, however, admitted that there was a confusion in the earlier order of the court regarding the placement of names on the ECL, which has now been clarified.

The FIA is investigating 32 people in relation to money laundering from fictitious accounts, under which Zardari’s close aide and Pakistan Stock Exchange Chairman Hussain Lawai was also arrested earlier this week.

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