Summary of cases against Zardari
By Abid Butt
LAHORE: Asif Ali Zardari was arrested from Islamabad on Tuesday for the murder of Justice Nizam Ahmed and his son Nadeem Ahmed on June 1997, after a pre-arrest bail granted on March 12,1999 was cancelled.
Justice Ahmed of the Sindh High Court and Nadeem, a lawyer, were shot dead in an attack on June 10,1997 outside his home. A first information report was lodged at the Ferozabad police station by the justice’s brother-in-law, Captain (r) Sikandar. Zardari’s was linked to the case by the confessions of co-accused Jawad Akhtar Pirzada and Babar Sindhu, who according to the prosecution were involved in the shooting.
The killing was attributed to a dispute over a plot adjacent to Awami Markaz that was opposing commercialisation and had been allotted illegally by Zardari’s front man Javed Akhtar Pirzada.
Zardari was taken into custody on November 5, 1996 from the Punjab Governor’s House after Benazir’s government was evicted by former president Farooq Leghari. He initially faced as many as 21 cases of which 13 came up before the court while the rest were exonerated during inquiry or acquitted by the court. Zardari was acquitted by the Lahore High Court in the Pakistan Steel Mills case and was charged for receiving ‘illegal gratification’ from a contractor. The prosecution failed to establish the case before the appellate court and the sentence handed down to Zardari by the accountability court in 1998 was set aside.
Zardari remained behind bars for eight years, and was granted bail in 12 cases including three murder cases of Mir Murtaza Bhutto, Alam Baloch and Justice Nizam. He was also granted bail in the last remaining case, BMW, by the Supreme Court on November 22.
Following is the list of alleged corruption cases registered against Zardari:
Ehtesab Reference No 26 of 1998 (Assets case): The case was filed in the LHC in Feb 1998 for owning property beyond known sources of income. Initially, only Benazir Bhutto was accused, but later Zardari was also implicated.
Ehtesab Reference No 29 of 1998 (Tractors case): The reference concerns the alleged receipt of kickbacks in a contract to import low cost Polish tractors to ‘benefit Pakistani farmers.’
Ehtesab Reference No 30 & 31 of 1998 (SGS and Cotecna case): The case is related to the alleged receipt of kickbacks in contracts awarded to two Swiss companies (SGS and Cotecna) for inspection of Pakistani imports.
Ehtesab Reference No 32 of 1998 (Steel Mills case): Zardari was accused of getting a share of illegal gratification received by a former chairman of Pakistan Steel Mills from a contractor.
Zardari was involved in six criminal cases; the main ones besides Justice Ahmed case are:
Mir Murtaza Bhutto case: Mir Murtaza Bhutto, the brother of Benazir Bhutto and a sitting parliamentarian, was shot dead in an alleged police encounter in Clifton in 1996. Zardari was accused of conspiring in the killing of Murtaza. A Supreme Court inquiry found that police had ‘deliberately’ destroyed evidences in the murder case.
Alam Baloch murder case: Alam Baloch, a senior government official was killed on September 18, 1997 during Zardari imprisonment.