Asif Ali Zardari leaves the High Court building in Islamabad. File / Associated Press
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday granted bail to former president and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) supremo Asif Ali Zardari on medical grounds in two references pertaining to money laundering through fake bank accounts.
A two-judge bench, comprising IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Amir Farooq, directed Zardari to submit two surety bonds of Rs10 million each in the two references lodged against him.
Flanked by former Sindh chief minister Qaim Ali Shah and sister Aseefa, PPP chairperson Bilawal during a chat with reporters thanked the judiciary for providing relief to his father.
He criticised the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for failing to present a response in the petition filed by PPP leader and his aunt Faryal Talpur.
Zardari was arrested in June this year for his alleged involvement in money laundering of billions through fake accounts. He was receiving medical treatment at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) in Islamabad.
He had moved a petition through his lawyer Farooq H Naek and nominated the NAB and an accountability court of Islamabad as respondents.
Zardari moved the IHC on Dec. 3, over a month after the former premier Nawaz Sharif was given similar relief.
The petition said Zardari is suffering from multiple diseases - such as diabetes, cervical lumbar and spondylosis, sensory and motor neuropathy with impaired proprioception.
According to the petition, Zardari also has a Holter monitor attached to his chest, enabling doctors to check and note variations in his heartbeat and blockages in his arteries.
Meanwhile, in a related development apparently targeting opposition leaders, the federal cabinet has decided to impose curbs on media coverage of convicts and absconders.
“The prime minister has given a task to the law minister to draft a law to curb media coverage of convicts and absconders,” Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan told reporters.
Although she did not name any of the convicts or absconders against whom the new law was being considered, it is believed that she was talking about former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Maryam, sons Hassan and Hussain and former finance minister Ishaq Dar.
'Time for nation to stop glorifying money launderers who have damaged our nation & impoverished our people and now seeking refuge behind 'democracy.'
The decision paves the way for the country's anti-graft body to arrest the two, perhaps within hours.
The development came about five months after Zardari, the widower of the country's assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was arrested by Pakistan's anti-graft body in a multi-million dollar money laundering case.
A leading University College Hospital and Harley Street Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon and Hematologists at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital have hinted that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s toxicology screening for poisoning will be ordered in London if no cause or cure is found of his unstable platelets.
Instead, the court found Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh guilty of the lesser charge of kidnapping and sentenced him to seven years in prison. One of his lawyers, Khwaja Naveed, said he could go free unless the government chooses to challenge the court decision.
About half the country's roughly 110 million people are currently under quarantine — including millions in deep poverty, left jobless by tough restrictions on movement.
The first phase testing would take around three months, CSIRO's director of health Rob Grenfell told Reuters, adding that any resulting vaccine would not be available to the public before late next year.