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Bilawal Bhutto appeared before NAB

30 May, 2019

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ISLAMABAD: Police and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) workers clashed on Wednesday as party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari appeared before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in connection with the fake accounts case. A joint interrogation team of the anti-graft body questioned Bilawal for 20 minutes and handed a questionnaire having 32 questions, to which he has to respond to by June 12.

Sources said that Bilawal was probed regarding the accounts of the Zardari Group of Companies and the kickbacks received by the group.

Earlier, upon Bilawal Bhutto’s arrival, workers chanted slogans in his favour. Police used water cannon to stop PPP workers from moving forward. At D-Chowk, PPP workers and police broke into a scuffle as well.

Due to the likely arrival of the PPP leaders in the capital, the Islamabad administration had banned the entry of party workers in the federal capital. On Tuesday, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) barred political workers from entering the city and directed the provincial home secretaries of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab to instruct their police personnel to stop PPP workers, saying that the presence of party workers could lead to chaos.

The administration sealed the entry routes to the federal capital in order to stop PPP workers from arriving. Moreover, PPP leaders and workers were stopped from reaching the Zardari House.

PPP Punjab Secretary General Chaudhry Manzoor said that stopping ‘jiyalas’ was a cowardly move and the PPP workers would reach the federal capital. He said that the democratic rights of the workers were being usurped.

Talking to the media after the hearing, Bilawal alleged that Prime Minister Imran Khan was conspiring to take over all institutions in the country and form a one-party system. Bilawal said constructive criticism was not being tolerated in the country.

“The people are realising that Khan lied on the slogan of change. They have realised that they are not capable of running the country. He is conspiring and using extreme force to hide his inadequacies.”

Bilawal said freedom to assembly and speech were the rights of every Pakistani, and added that there were no emergency measures in place in Islamabad and Section 144 had not been imposed.

“I had not given a call but some of my workers and MNAs decided to come. The law does not forbid people from coming to me. Despite this, PPP workers and elected members were attacked by the government of Imran Khan.”

The PPP chairman demanded immediate release of arrested PPP workers. “Is this a state of Madina where you attack women in Ramazan,” Bilawal said.

Bilawal reiterated PPP’s belief that the NAB law, which was made by Pervez Musharraf, was a black law. “This institution is for political revenge and engineering. We believe that in our case rule of law and standard precedence are not being used. Our right to a fair trial is being undermined.”

On his appearance before the accountability bureau, Bilawal said he was “interviewed” for 20 minutes. “The company about which I am being questioned, I was made a shareholder of that company when I was in school.” Bilawal added that he was made an office-bearer of the company when Asif Ali Zardari became president. “I have not been involved in day to day business activity, which is why NAB gave me a questionnaire which I will reply to after consulting my lawyer,” he said.

According to Bilawal, people at NAB were doing their job and the PPP had structural reservations with the bureau. He was critical of NAB Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal, stating that he should not have given the interview to journalist Javed Chaudhry. “The NAB chairman in the interview had said that if he opens cases against the government, the government would topple.”

He said it wasn’t a coincidence that the NAB chairman’s audio scandal was aired on a news channel owned by the prime minister’s special assistance. The PPP chairman termed this a tactic to blackmail the NAB chairman. “I believe there should be an investigation.”

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