An anti-corruption court on Monday charged former Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari in two graft cases, a week after he was indicted in a major money laundering case. Zardari, 63, the co-chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and husband of the country’s first woman prime minister Benazir Bhutto, was present in the Islamabad-based court and pleaded not guilty.
During the hearing, the accountability court indicted 19 others accused in the Park Lane case and 15 others in the Thatta water supply case. The court charged Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur in a mega money laundering case on September 28.
In the Park Lane case, Zardari and his son Bilawal Ali Zardari are accused of purchasing 307 acres of prime property in Islamabad at very low rates using frontmen. In the Thatta water supply case, a private contractor was illegally awarded project contracts. In the money laundering case, it is alleged fake accounts were used by the former president and the other accused to park and launder ill-gotten wealth.
The court has rejected Zardari’s plea seeking acquittal in all three cases. He was arrested last year by the National Accountability Bureau and probed for months before being released in December on medical grounds.
Zardari has maintained the allegations against him are a vilification campaign by Prime Minister Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf: party. Commenting on the accountability cases filed against him, Zardari said that he had previously suffered under the same circumstances when cases were filed slapped on him. “When we are in Opposition, such cases are filed against us," he said. “We have been going through these cases [in the past as well]."