12 June 2019
Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, vowed Tuesday to ensure that former president Asif Ali Zardari and ex-premier Nawaz Sharif are held accountable for wrongdoing, accusing them of being responsible for the financial crisis currently faced by the country.
In a televised speech, Imran Khan said Pakistan’s foreign debt increased dramatically during the two men’s tenures. He said he will set up a high-powered body to investigate where foreign loan money obtained by Zardari and Sharif was spent.
In the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index Pakistan ranked 117 out of 180 countries. Neighbouring India ranked 87.
Asif Ali Zardari (in picture), husband of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, a two-time premier, served as president from 2008 until 2013. He swept to power in 2008 following a wave of sympathy following the murder of his wife, Benazir, in a suicide attack. He is currently the leader of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). He was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB)on Monday on corruption charges, after a court rejected his bail application. It was alleged that he laundered some $29 million using other people’s bank accounts.
Zardari spent 11 years in jail on corruption and murder charges before becoming president in 2008. But he was never convicted. Zardari’s sister, Faryal Talpur, was also being investigated by the anti-corruption body, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). She was not arrested but her plea for bail was rejected.
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is also currently behind bars, after being sentenced to seven years in prison late last year on corruption charges. His daughter Maryam was sentenced to seven years in prison. Maryam’s husband Muhammad Safdar was jailed for one year in the same case.
Opposition leader in Pakistan’s Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz, a nephew of Nawaz Sharif, was arrested Tuesday by the anti-graft body in cases related to money laundering and corruption. Hamza is the son of PML-N president and National Assembly opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif. NAB has found evidence of money laundering which enabled Shehbaz and his family to hold assets in the UK. In the Ramzan Sugar Mills corruption case, Shehbaz and his son Hamza are accused of “fraudulently and dishonestly” causing a $1.4 million loss to the national exchequer.