- Former president Asif Zardari appears before IHC to plead for bail in New York apartment case.
- IHC grants pre-arrest bail till July 28.
- Responding to reporters, Zardari expresses belief he is being treated worse than Nawaz Sharif due to his ethnic heritage.
ISLAMABAD: In a thinly veiled assertion that he is being treated unfairly due to his ethnicity, former president Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday remarked that PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif’s domicile was “better” than his.
Speaking outside the Islamabad High Court (IHC), where he had appeared for a bail hearing against his wishes, Zardari was asked to give his opinion on whether the laws were different for him and the PML-N leader.
To this, he simply said, “Mian Sahab’s domicile is better than mine”.
He was referring to underlying resentment among Pakistan’s smaller ethno-linguistic groups against the dominant Punjabi ethnic group. Zardari had been told to show up in person for the hearing even though his counsel had pleaded that he not be required to do so due to his ill health.
When asked whether he would advise Nawaz to return to Pakistan, the PPP stalwart said he would not give anyone any advice, but if someone wants to, they can.
Pre-arrest bail granted
Earlier, the IHC had accepted the former president’s bail plea in the New York apartment case, granting him security from arrest till July 28.
A division bench comprising IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Aamer Farooq heard the plea. The court accepted the plea against surety bonds of Rs0.5 million till July 28 and issued a notice to NAB.
Before the hearing, Zardari’s counsel had requested the court to allow the vehicle of the former president to enter the court’s premises on medical and security grounds.
A day earlier, the IHC had rejected a request to hear the pre-arrest bail plea in Zardari’s absence.
Zardari’s counsel, Farooq H Naek had pleaded that the former president couldn’t appear before the court due to health problems and prayed that the court grant him bail in the NAB inquiry in his absence.
He had contended that Zardari was under treatment at a private hospital in Karachi.
Responding to the argument, Justice Aamer Farooq had reminded the counsel that the presence of the applicant is necessary in pre-arrest bail cases.
What is the NY Apartment case?
The PPP co-chairperson had approached the IHC seeking pre-arrest bail after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) opened an investigation into an apartment allegedly owned by him in New York, US.
NAB had earlier informed the former president, via a notice, that Zardari has not disclosed in Pakistan that he owns an apartment in New York’s Manhattan area.
NAB also pointed out in the notice that the anti-graft body could not obtain records confirming that any sum of money was legally sent from Pakistan to buy the flat in New York.
The former president, fearing arrest in the case, had petitioned the IHC stating that he received NAB’s notice regarding the investigation on June 15 and needed time to respond. Zardari argued he had requested time so that he could gather relevant information about the property.
“There is a history of NAB targeting me,” the former president had argued while making the case for pre-arrest bail.
“I am suffering from several ailments, and getting treatment from doctors,” he had added.