The Islamabad High Court on Wednesday granted bail “on medical grounds” to former president Asif Ali Zardari and directed him to submit surety bonds of Rs. 10 million in the two corruption cases pending against him.
A two-judge bench comprising IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Amir Farooq was hearing the bail plea, which had been filed by the Pakistan Peoples Party leader to secure his release from custody of the National Accountability Bureau. In his plea, Zardari had contended that he was suffering from a heart condition and diabetes and required hospital care.
In the past month, Zardari has been receiving medical attention from the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in the federal capital, where his custody was transferred from Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail.
In today’s proceedings, Zardari’s counsel submitted medical reports to prove that his client was facing serious medical concerns. The same reports were also provided to NAB.
In a message posted on Twitter after the bail decision, PPP Chairman and Zardari’s son Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari thanked well-wishers for their prayers. “Asif Ali Zardari has been granted bail by the Islamabad High Court,” he said, adding, “The medical reports presented today were extremely concerning and we hope to seek medical care in Karachi as soon as possible.”
Zardari is nominated in multiple money laundering and corruption cases currently under scrutiny by NAB but has yet to be formally convicted of anything. NAB arrested him on June 10 after the IHC refused to grant an extension to his pre-arrest bail in the fake bank accounts.
NAB’s fake accounts case alleges that Zardari laundered vast sums of money through suspect bank accounts and companies, including accounts in the name of poor people who had no idea they even had bank accounts. In September 2018, the Supreme Court established a joint investigation team to investigate the case, finding that at least $400 million had passed through “thousands of false accounts.” Zardari has repeatedly dismissed allegations he had any hand in the scheme.