Court Extends Remand of PPP Leader for Six More Days
LAHORE: An accountability court on Tuesday accepted National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) request to extend six more days on Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Qasim Zia’s remand.
Zia, a former Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) president, has been arrested by the NAB for his alleged involvement in fraud.
On Tuesday, NAB officials brought Zia to court after the expiry of his 10-day remand. Hundreds of PPP workers staged a protest demonstration in front of the court.
The NAB officials requested the court for his custody for another 14 days to complete the investigation of the case.
They also submitted an initial investigation report accusing Zia and four other directors of his brokerage firm of embezzling Rs80 million from 80 people. “They received the money from the people to buy them shares of various companies. However, they transferred the money into their own accounts,” the report said.
Azhar Siddique, Zia’s counsel, denied the claims.
“Zia had resigned from the brokerage company, Ali Usman Securities, after clearing all assets and liabilities,” he said.
Siddique presented the record of the clearance of liabilities before the court. He said that at the time of resigning, Zia had obtained clearance from the Securities and Exchange and Commission of Pakistan. “The company accounts before 2008 clearly show that Zia did not have any pending liabilities,” he said.
He said that even if there had been some embezzlement in a private limited company, the NAB was not authorised to take up the matter.
Zia told the court that he was not guilty.
NAB Investigation Officer Shehryar Jameel told the court that a formal inquiry against had been launched at the start of 2015. “The other accused in the case, Usman Saeed, is unable to pay the liabilities,” he said.
The defence counsel said that the allegations of liabilities were levelled against the company and not Zia. “It is no longer Zia’s responsibility to clear those liabilities as he has resigned from the firm. All the pre-2008 liabilities were settled before he resigned,” he said.
“If the NAB has been unable to file a reference against Zia so far, why was he arrested in a midnight raid? He was cooperating with the bureau in the investigation before his arrest,” the counsel said.
After hearing arguments from both sides, the court extended Zia’s remand.
“The NAB had started the inquiry in 2008. I appeared several times before an inquiry team and clarified my position. However, I still fail to understand why the NAB arrested me,” Zia said outside the court. “If my guilt is proved, I’d rather be hanged than face a lenient punishment,” he said.
PPP central Punjab president Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo said Zia’s arrest and prosecution were political victimisation. “The PML-N government should stop the political victimisation of PPP leaders. Zia only owned 25 per cent shares in the company. The chief executive of the company has not even been questioned by the NAB,” he said.
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