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Asif Zardari case is well-calculated move at pre-poll rigging: Aitzaz Ahsan

11 July, 2018

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LAHORE: The central leadership of the Pakistan Peoples Party has described the latest spate of ‘media trial’ against former president Asif Ali Zardari and  his sister Faryal Talpur, PPP women wing president, as ‘an instance of political victimisation and a well-calculated move at pre-poll rigging’.

Addressing a press conference at Bilawal House, PPP leaders Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan, Farhatullah Babar, Senator Sherry Rehman, Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari,

Qamaruz Zaman Kaira, Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmed and Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar said that that they found the timing of the case particularly suspicious. They  said the was initiated three years ago and was dragged out of cold storage just two weeks before the election as a clear case of political victimisation.

The PPP leaders pointed out that the timing smacked of clear intent to damage the party leadership’s reputation and to influence the outcome of the upcoming

elections. “The investigation is headed by FIA director general Bashir Memon whose brother is contesting the election against the PPP in Matiari, Sindh.

PPP’s Election Cell has been asking for his removal for his politically partisan behaviour. Najaf Mirza, the Additional FIA DG heading the investigation, is  even more blatantly controversial. He has been active against Asif Zardari since 1999,” the PPP leader said, adding that there was an active FIR against

Mirza, therefore it was shocking that he had been made in charge of the investigation. Further, PPP leaders said that the scale of disinformation was also high. “The amounts mentioned allege that the Zardari Group is somehow involved in white collar crimes and money laundering of Rs 35 billion and more. All of the above were factually wrong, and deliberately misleading.

The development came after an accountability court issued arrest warrants for the two in the Avenfield reference. The one company in question has not done anything illegal or used at any point for any criminal activity. Even the amount it allegedly transacted business is

one and a half crore rupees, which as a loan was on record returned. None of this amounts to money-laundering or criminal transaction. Both are allegations

which shall be contested in court,” they said. The PPP leaders said that they were deeply saddened at the fact that former President Zardari and Ms Talpur had been put on the ECL, given that others, like  PML-N quaid Nawaz Sharif and Mariyam Nawaz, had over months of investigation, trial etc, but were never put on ECL until after the NAB court sentenced them.

“The PPP and President Zardari have always faced down cases and witch hunts without ever running away. This is all part of what looks like an elaborate  conspiracy to rig the polls and strip PPP of a level playing field. From KP to Punjab and Sindh, all across the country our candidates and supporters are  being pressed to switch loyalties and change their political tickets.

“In Sindh the micromanagement of the election is evident at all levels of political tiers, the GDA and it’s allies are being generously facilitated. In Sindh  our party has officially notified us of Col Abid Shah in Sukkur, and Major Shehzad in Badin as being particularly active against PPP members. In KP for  example, we have been told of a Col Mugheez who is overly active in pressuring our party members and supporters to switch to the Kings party,” the PPP

leaders pointed out. “In Punjab the same process is magnified across the province. There’s a sense that there’s a new IJI being made for 2018. Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s  campaign has also encountered alarming road blocks and media blackouts all over the country. First in Lyari, then on way to Uch Sharif, then later in Multan.

Jalsa permissions are also held up or plainly denied in many parts of KP while others are being allowed.” PPP leaders further said that the growing media gags and press censorship signals the onset of a dark period of political engineering, which is busy using  state resources to stack the deck against progressive political parties with an ideological base and vote bank.

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