Islamabad: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government on Thursday decided to ban former President and PPP co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari and another 171 people from leaving the country over a money laundering case being probed on the orders of the apex court.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said in a press briefing here that the Cabinet decided to include the Pakistan Peoples Party leader and another 171 people in the Exit Control List, which prevents those on it from leaving the country, Geo News reported.
“He (Zardari) does not take it (the investigation) seriously. Hopefully, after today he will take it seriously,” Chaudhry said after a Cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“This is not Purana Pakistan… Now, each and every penny will be accounted for,” he said. Hitting back, Zardari vowed to fight his political opponents “in court and everywhere else”.
“Today, the thugs of the ladla have challenged us. We are not afraid of their tactics,” he said, referring to the PTI government led by Imran Khan.
Criticizing the incumbent government, Zardari said: “They did nothing in their (first) 100 days… They will be unable to run the country despite foreign support by friendly countries.”
Zardari’s son and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto said: “The country’s rein has been handed to an inexperienced PM. He has drowned the public in a sea of inflation within his first 100 days. He has brought the economy to a point from where there is no return.”
Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur and former Pakistan Stock Exchange chairman Hussain Lawai are among those being investigated by a joint commission comprising members of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and intelligence services, by order of the Supreme Court, for allegedly laundering money through at least 29 fake accounts.
According to a report published by the commission recently, Zardari, along with his accomplices, laundered 4.2 billion rupees ($30 million) in the name of other people.
The report also asserted that the former President did not reveal all his assets in the declaration to the Election Commission during the July polls, which could lead to him being disqualified from politics for life.
Zardari, who was President of the country between 2008 and 2013, has denied any criminal activity and called the probe politically motivated.
The widower of the assassinated former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, who was killed 11 years ago, Zardari has faced several graft cases over the years and was also imprisoned for eight years in several cases.