‘Sharif men’ unite against accountability czar

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  • Nawaz Sharif, PML-N CEC ask NAB chief Iqbal to prove money laundering charge or resign from office
  • Meeting participants agree to pursue legal proceedings against ‘liars’ 

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) on Friday threw its weight behind ‘supreme leader’ Nawaz Sharif, as he reiterated his resolve not to rest until the country’s accountability czar, Justice (r) Javed Iqbal, presents evidence in support of the money laundering allegations he has made against the deposed premier, or resigns from office.

NAB claims that the World Bank’s (WB) migration and remittance book released in September 2016 carried information that foreign exchange reserves of India increased by $4.9bn after receiving the huge amount sent through money laundering, inflicting losses to Pakistan’s national kitty.

However, the WB has responded to the NAB move, stating that “the report does not include any mention of money laundering nor does it name any individuals”, while the State Bank of Pakistan has said the estimates shown in the WB report are based on “assumptions” which don’t reflect reality.

Making it clear that he won’t step back from the issue, Nawaz told reporters and party leaders on two separate occasions that he would not stand down from his demand of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman’s resignation until he proves that the former was involved in laundering $4.9 billion to India.

“If he (Javed Iqbal) does not have any evidence, he should resign,” Nawaz reiterated.

Responding to criticism from all quarters for initiating a ‘flimsy investigation’ against the deposed PM, the NAB chief had on Thursday said that NAB remains undeterred in its quest for nipping corruption in the bud in accordance with the law.

Addressing reporters outside the accountability court on Friday, Nawaz asked how much worse could things get now, adding that such situations did not even occur during dictatorships.

“This is not a minor issue but a serious matter,” he said, adding that “those who disqualified me from parliament for life and then denied me the party presidency should think about what they are doing to the country”.

Nawaz also said that he spoke with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi about the ongoing situation in the country.

PML-N DEMANDS EVIDENCE:

Separately, the PML-N CEC demanded that the NAB chairman should provide proof against Nawaz Sharif in the money-laundering probe or step down.

The matter was discussed at the meeting held at the Punjab House where Nawaz arrived after attending the corruption proceedings.

The CEC members agreed to pursue legal proceedings against all those responsible for the ‘lies’ in the money laundering probe. The participants of the meeting condemned NAB’s statement launching a probe against the former prime minister based on a “flimsy” media report.

A notification issued by PML-N’s CEC condemned the ‘extremely irresponsible statement based on a false media report’.

It stated that each person responsible for the ‘lie’ would be exposed.

The report which was made the basis of ordering a probe into the alleged money laundering was itself refuted by both, the World Bank and the State Bank of Pakistan, read the notification.

There is no mention of money laundering or any individual in the report published by the World Bank, it further added.

“If he doesn’t apologise, legal options are on the table,” Nawaz said at the meeting, referring to NAB chairman.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, PML-N Chairman Senator Raja Zafarul Haq, cabinet member Sardar Mehtab Abbasi and National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq attended the meeting.

Also in attendance were Nawaz’s daughter Maryam, Shehbaz’s son MNA Hamza Shehbaz, State Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, Federal Railways Minister Saad Rafique, Senator Mushahid Hussain, AJK Prime Minister Farooq Haider, federal minister Barjees Tahir, Senator Pervaiz Rashid and Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, among others.

During the meeting, the former premier condemned the latest NAB probe against him. He claimed the NAB chairman is taking revenge in the name of “accountability”. He added that NAB has turned into a prejudiced department.

The PML-N supremo also announced the formation of the party’s parliamentary board and election cell to discuss the awarding of party tickets in the upcoming general elections.