ISLAMABAD: Hours after deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif was handed a seven-year jail term by the accountability court in Al-Azizia corruption reference, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said that the truth has come out with the verdict.
Sharif, the PML-N supremo and three-time prime minister of Pakistan, was arrested from the courtroom after he was found guilty in a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) reference earlier on Monday. The court, however, acquitted him in the Flagship Investments reference but imposed a fine of Rs1.5 billion. His sons, Hassan and Hussain, were declared absconders.
Chairing a consultative meeting of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), called in the wake of accountability court’s verdict, PM Khan said that the previous rulers only looted the nation’s wealth after coming into power. “The truth has come out with the verdict against Nawaz Sharif,” he said in the meeting. The premier was briefed in detail about the court’s orders on the Al-Azizia and Flagship corruption references.
Addressing the meeting, the prime minister said that the ongoing accountability process was imperative for the country’s progress. “[Former] rulers only made money after coming into power … they failed to change the fate of the poor masses despite taking Rs24,000 billion in loans in the last 10 years,” he remarked.
According to media reports, the prime minister also presented the police guidelines on the overall political and economic situation of the country. PM Khan also directed the PTI leaders on the current political landscape of the country so that they could represent the party in the media accordingly.
CASES AGAINST NAWAZ:
After Nawaz was named in the Panama Papers in 2016, the Supreme Court (SC) had formed a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the former premier. On the basis of the JIT report, Nawaz was disqualified from being a member of parliament in July 2017.
The top court had also directed NAB to file references against the Sharif family and decide the cases within six months. One of the three references, Avenfield, implicated Nawaz, daughter Maryam and son-in-law Muhammad Safdar, while the other two references, Flagship and Al-Azizia, concerned Nawaz and his sons Hasan and Husain Nawaz. The two brothers residing in London have been absconding since the proceedings began last year and were declared proclaimed offenders by the court.
On July 6, after four extensions in the original six-month deadline to conclude all three cases, the court had announced its verdict in the Avenfield reference.
Nawaz, Maryam and Safdar were sentenced to 10, seven and one year of imprisonment, respectively, in absentia by Accountability Judge Muhammad Bashir. They, however, were released on bail by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) after a few months.
Following the conviction, Nawaz, through his counsel filed a petition in the IHC that sought transfer of cases to another court, pleading “since the evidence and the arguments in all three references were similar, the outcome may be the same if the same judge heard the case”.
Subsequently, Judge Bashir recused and the cases were transferred to the court of AC Judge Muhammad Arshad. Unlike Avenfield reference, the court had also announced to give a joint verdict in the remaining two corruption references against former premier and his family.
Overall 183 hearings took place in the NAB reference against Nawaz in AC No 1 and No 2. The former PM appeared in the AC 130 times: 70 times before Judge Muhammad Bashir and 60 times before Judge Arshad Malik.