Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) supremo Asif Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur have demanded that the head of a joint investigation team (JIT) formed on the directives of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to probe money laundering allegations against them be replaced, as the duo once again failed to appear before the investigators on Saturday.
In their reply submitted to the Supreme Court, Zardari and Talpur expressed their reservations against FIA Additional Director General Najaf Mirza, who is leading the investigation team. The PPP leaders through their counsel Farook H Naek called for the court to direct FIA to conduct a fair investigation without any harassment or defamation.
It also stated that the FIA in its interim challan has nominated Zardari as the accused and the purpose of suo motu proceedings has thus been achieved. Any further Supreme Court proceedings would be a violation of the respondent’s rights, the reply maintained, and asked the court to drop proceedings against Zardari.
Zardari and Talpur are being investigated as part of corruption case relating to fake accounts and fictitious bank transactions worth Rs 35 billion. The case was initially registered against former Pakistan Stock Exchange chairman Hussain Lawai, who is widely believed to be close to former president Asif Ali Zardari.
The two previously failed to appear before the FIA on July 28 and their case had been halted by the Supreme Court to avoid allegations of pre-poll rigging ahead of the July 25 general elections. On Saturday, their counsel clarified that the two were occupied with submitting their election expenditure details to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) as August 4 was the last day for submission of documents.
Last month, upon being declared an absconder, Zardari had accused FIA DG Bashir Memon of holding a grudge against the PPP. He had termed the probe against him as ‘political victimisation’ and claimed that the FIA DG was working on an anti-PPP agenda.
Meanwhile, the FIA has decided to approach the Supreme Court over non-appearance of Zardari and Talpur before the JIT. It has been learnt that the agency has decided to prepare a notice for the sake of investigation in the light of court orders. The FIA has also prepared a report pertaining to its investigations in the case so far, which would be submitted with the Supreme Court on the next hearing of the case.