Stop arresting me, it will create fear: Pak ex-President Zardari

Islamabad, June 20

Pakistan’s former President Asif Ali Zardari, appearing in Parliament on Thursday for the first time after being arrested in a corruption case, called for an end to his arrest, saying it would not make a difference rather create fear among the people.

Zardari, who is in the custody of the anti-corruption body National Accountability Bureau (NAB), appeared before the house after the National Assembly Secretariat issued a production order to attend Parliament session.

He said that it is time to stop the accountability and arrests, and move forward, Geo News reported.

The 63-year-old co-chairman of the Opposition Pakistan Peoples Party and husband of the country’s first woman prime minister Benazir Bhutto was arrested by the NAB from his house last week in a multi-million dollar money laundering case, hours after the Islamabad High Court rejected his bail plea.

A seemingly disappointed Zardari said that putting him behind the bars would not make any difference.

“My arrest will not make a difference. It will only strengthen the party. However, it will create fear among the common man that if Zardari can be arrested then they can also be arrested,” he said.

According to the production order, the NAB is directed to produce Zardari at the “commencement of each sitting of the National Assembly before the Seargeant-at-Arms at the Parliament House, Islamabad, who shall, after the conclusion of the sittings deliver him into your custody accordingly”.

Commenting on the current economic situation, he said that there would be protests if the country’s economic situation continues to deteriorate.

The former president said that the government should avoid taking steps that could trigger countrywide protests and create a situation that would no longer be in control of the political parties.

“They should think about this and the forces that brought them into power should also think about the consequences,” Zardari said.

Criticising the budget presented by the government last week, he said that the budget raised government salaries but it also increased taxes.

“There is fear among the businessmen. If you have more than Rs 500,000 in your cheque book, then you receive a notice to give an explanation for it. There is no doubt that this budget was not made by them,” he said.

“If we are receiving money from the IMF, why are the people crying? Why are the industries crying?” Zardari asked.

The current economic situation was an issue for everyone and that the government and opposition should sit together to discuss the issues affecting the economy, he added.

Last week after his arrest, Zardari was admitted to a hospital in Rawalpindi after a drop in his sugar level and blood pressure.

Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur are two of the main accused in the money laundering scandal which utilised fake bank accounts to channel illegally gained funds out of Pakistan.

According to the NAB, the duo made transactions of Rs 150 million through alleged fake bank accounts.

Zardari, the 11th President of Pakistan from 2008 to 2013, has denied any link with the fake accounts. He has said the allegation was part of a vilification campaign by the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party to malign opposition leaders. PTI

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