Park Lane reference: Accountability court to indict Zardari on August 10


ISLAMABAD : The accountability court rejected former president Asif Ali Zardari’s petitions on Friday and directed that the PPP leader be indicted on August 10.

Accountability Court’s Judge Azam Khan rejected the former president’s petition to dismiss the reference against him,  adding that the court will issue its written orders with directives today.

The indictment of the PPP leader was postponed due to various petitions filed by his lawyer against the reference.

Last month, former president Asif Ali Zardari’s lawyer had moved a petition challenging the accountability court’s (AC) jurisdiction to hear the Park Lane reference.

Farouk H Naek requested the court to decide the petition before the trial began.

NAB’s Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi had opposed the petition and requested the court to dismiss it as being baseless.

Background of the Park Lane reference

A Karachi-based private company, Park Lane Estate Pvt Ltd, had purchased almost 2,500 kanals of land near Sangjani from Faisal Sakhi Butt, who himself purchased the land from a Pakistani American living in Houston, Texas in the USA, named Muhammad Nasir Khan, for merely Rs62 million.

Nasir Khan was the original purchaser of this land in 1994 and was alleged by NAB in 1997 to be the frontman of Zardari in the Ehtesab Bureau reference filed against him in 1997.

However, all the legal requirements were met and followed in the purchase and transfer of this land from one man to another and then to Park Lane Estate Pvt Ltd, which was a Karachi based company. According to the Form-A Annual Return of the company, its share capital, as reflected in the SECP record then, showed it had 120,000 shares of which Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari own 30,000 shares each.

Zardari was shown as a director and his son was a member with four others who appear as members and debenture holders.

In 1997 the Ehtesab Bureau of Mian Saifur Rehman, initiated a case against Mr Zardari while the FIA had arrested some persons in the case. Media reports in 1997 had then stated that Zardari had forcibly acquired this 2,500 kanals of land uprooting 300 families to set up a polo ground and a riding pavilion in Sangjani, 25 minutes from Islamabad.

Former Ehtisab Bureau chairman Saifur Rehman had told a news conference on June 10, 1997, that the then chairman of the CDA, now late Shafi Sehwani, a PPP-appointee, was also involved in the land scam. Some local residents including Sardar Ishaque, Raja Mehboob Elahi and Haji Bashir had appeared before reporters and had claimed that they had been forced to sell their land at a throwaway price in 1994 and Zardari wanted to build a polo ground in Sangjani.

It was then alleged that a US resident Nasir Khan had been used as frontman by Zardari. According to a 1997 news report, Nasir Khan was instrumental in making deals with the owners, whose lands were forcibly acquired by the revenue administration of Islamabad not for any official projects but for private ownership of Nasir Khan, who was acting at Zardari’s behest.