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Zardari, Bilawal appear before anti-graft body in corruption case

Press Trust of India  |  Islamabad 

Pakistan's former president Asif Ali Zardari and his son Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Wednesday appeared before the top anti-graft body, which questioned them for about two hours on corruption charges.

They appeared before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) office here in connection with an alleged loan obtained by the Park Lane Estate Company, a Karachi-based real estate firm co-owned by Zardari and Bilawal.

The NAB has claimed in the case that a piece of land belonging to the Punjab forest department was illegally transferred to the company by some government officials.

Both Bilawal and Zardari were questioned by NAB officials for about two hours about various charges of corruption.

NAB said in official handout that a questionnaire was also handed over to them to respond by March 30.

There was tight security ahead of their arrival at the NAB office.

Hundreds of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) supporters, who had gathered near the NAB's office in support of their leaders, clashed with the police when they were stopped from approaching the top leaders. Several workers of PPP were arrested after clashes with police.

Addressing a press conference later, Bilawal termed NAB action as political vendetta. "Whenever I criticize the government, NAB becomes active," he said.

Bilawal also said it was PPP's "weakness" and "mistake" to not amend the NAB's "black law".

He, however, did not elaborate on the "black law".

"This was our mistake, this was our weakness that we did not change this black law which was introduced by a dictator," he said, referring to former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

Bilawal said that the party will "wipe the Constitution" of every law that had been introduced by the "dictator".

He also condemned the use of force and demanded that all detained workers should be released.

"Our workers remained peaceful despite the use of force against themThese actions by the government were unnecessary, he said.

Bilawal also said that 30 political workers were arrested and demanded the government to release them immediately.

The workers were asked by the party leadership to reach the capital in order to "express solidarity" with the chairperson.

PPP leadership including former two-time premier Benazir Bhutto was also embroiled in corruption cases as well as Zardari who spent several years in jail during time Pervez Musharraf.

Bhutto's name was deleted from the cases after she was killed in a terrorist attack in 2007 while Zardari was exonerated by courts in at least five corruption cases during the last couple of years.

But he is now facing fresh allegations in fake bank accounts case which is about several fake accounts that were allegedly used to siphon off corruption money out of country.

Zardari has denied any link with the accounts.

Earlier, the two leaders met with their legal team at Zardari House.

On Tuesday, Zardari obtained a 10-day protective bail from the Sindh High Court.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, March 20 2019. 20:40 IST