Pak ex-president Asif Ali Zardari arrested in bogus accounts case

Former Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari was detained on Monday after the Islamabad High Court rejected an application seeking extension of pre-arrest bails of the Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman and his sister Faryal Talpur in a bogus bank accounts case.

The case relates to a transaction of Rs150 million to the PPP leaders’ private company through alleged fake bank accounts. Corruption watchdog National Accountability Bureau had issued arrest warrant on him on Sunday. Talpur, however, cannot be arrested as her warrants have not been issued as yet.

Both Zardari and Talpur had left the court building before the verdict was announced. The PPP called a meeting to discuss their legal options. They can appeal in the Supreme Court. Spokesperson for PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, appealed to party supporters to remain peaceful.

Zardari, who was president in 2008-2013, spent time in jail in the 1990s and 2000s, and was nicknamed Mr 10% for the commissions he had received on government contracts. His arrest came just hours after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan urged people to declare their assets and bank accounts under an amnesty scheme that will end on June 30.

In a message broadcast live on national television, the Pakistani PM asked non-filers of tax returns to fully avail of the asset declaration scheme introduced by his government before a planned massive crackdown begins. Pakistan, facing a dire financial situation which led it to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund, is set to introduce a budget with unprecedented tax proposals.

Khan said once the amnesty period is over, people will not have a similar opportunity. He warned that the information that his government has regarding fake bank accounts is “like nothing the previous governments had”, adding, “We have signed agreements with different countries on the matter.”

Imran recalled that the country’s debt ballooned Rs30,000 bn from Rs6,000 bn over the last decade. “The rising debt has had a major fallout on the masses as we collect about Rs4,000 bn in taxes, of which half of the amount goes to the debt servicing”. He added that the remaining amount is not sufficient to run the affairs of the country, and pointed out that Pakistan is ranked far below in terms of tax collection.

First Published:
Jun 10, 2019 22:05 IST

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