In a new twist in the mega money laundering and fake bank accounts case on Monday, two of the accused expressed their willingness before an accountability court in Islamabad to become approvers against Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) supremo Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur. Zardari and his sister Talpur appeared before the court in their first appearance here after the case was transferred from a banking court in Karachi upon the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) appeal. As the hearing began, Kiran Aman and Noreen Sultan, who are among the 30 accused nominated in the case by NAB, told the court that they are ready to testify as witnesses and had also filed an application in this regard with the NAB chairman but the bureau had named them as accused instead. When the judge asked the NAB prosecutor, he replied that he needs to check whether the request had been lodged. The accountability court judge asked NAB to verify, using the case record, if Kiran and Noreen had informed of their willingness to testify in the case against the other accused persons. The court then directed the women to submit their written pleas. Both the accused had earlier filed applications before the court that they did not afford to engage a defence lawyer. Farooq H Naek and Latif Khosa appeared as counsels for Asif Zardari and Faryal Talpur. The court marked the attendance of the accused persons and ordered the distribution of copies of the reference among their lawyers. The case hearing was later adjourned till April 16. Zardari, who had reached Islamabad earlier, had asked his party workers not to come to the court. Extensive security arrangements were made at the court premises, with at least 1,650 security officials deployed within and around the judicial complex to avoid any untoward situation during the hearing. Police, meanwhile, arrested two female workers of the PPP from outside the federal judicial complex as they were trying to enter the accountability court to witness the appearance of their leaders. Prior to the hearing, Zardari was asked by a reporter how he felt appearing in an accountability court after so long, to which the former president replied in a lighter vein, “Ye toh wohi jaga hai, guzre the hum jahan se (It’s the same place where he had passed by before).” “Where will you go from here?” the reporter further asked. “We will go from here where we went to before,” Zardari replied. When a reporter remarked that he was sitting in the same chair where former prime minister Nawaz Sharif would sit during hearings of corruption references against him, Zardari remarked, “Mian sahab barey log hain, hum toh chhotey log hain (Nawaz Sharif is a noble man, but I am a humble one).” He added that the Establishment should be asked about the trial of former military dictator Pervez Musharraf. Meanwhile, the NAB on Monday filed a new reference in the accountability court in connection with its ongoing probe into the mega money laundering and fake bank accounts case. The latest reference, which pertains to alleged corruption and illegal allotment of land in Karachi’s Pink Residency, was filed following approval by the NAB’s executive board last week. The accused named in the NAB reference include Aftab Memon, a former secretary of the Sindh Land Utilisation Department, and Omni Group’s Abdul Ghani Majeed. The reference accuses them and other individuals of involvement in the illegal regularisation of two plots of land in Gulistan-e-Jauhar. One of the plots measures 23 acres, while the other is of seven acres, according to the NAB reference. The anti-graft body has alleged that the financial transactions related to the illegally regularised plots were conducted through fake bank accounts. In the reference, the NAB estimates that the illegal land regularisation and consequent sale inflicted a loss of Rs 4 billion on the national exchequer. Memon was arrested by NAB Rawalpindi on March 8 in the ongoing probe into the alleged misuse of his authority in allotment of the said land. The Federal Investigation Agency is probing 32 people, including Zardari and Talpur, in relation to money laundering from fictitious accounts. Zardari’s close aide Hussain Lawai was arrested in July last year in connection with the probe. The former president’s other close aide and Omni Group Chairman Anwar Majeed and his son Abdul Ghani were arrested by FIA in August 2018.