RAWALPINDI, Oct 9: A Lahore High Court judge here on Tuesday advised the counsel for PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif to ask his client to pay back the decades-old bank loans to get rid of at least one of the three corruption references.

Justice Khwaja Imtiaz Ahmed’s remarks came during the hearing of petitions filed by the PML-N chief and his family seeking quashment of the three corruption references prepared against the family by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

When Salman Butt, one of Mr Sharif’s counsel, started argument in the Ittefaq Foundries reference case, Justice Ahmed remarked: “Sharif family seems to have recovered its losses and it is believed that the family is now well-off and can easily return all the loans to the banks.”

The judge said the loans procured from different banks were the public money and it should be returned at the earliest.

The division bench, however, once again restrained an accountability court from proceeding against the family in the three corruption references - Hudaibya Paper Mills, Ittefaq Foundries and Raiwind assets - when Khwaja Mohammad Harris, another counsel for the petitioner, said the matter was scheduled to be taken up on Wednesday.

According to the details of the loans provided to the court by NAB, the total receivable of nine banks from the family is Rs3.84 billion.

However, Advocate Butt contended before the court that his client was not a defaulter of the banks and NAB had prepared a false reference of willful default against the family.

He said the case of willful default could have only been prepared had the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) declared the family a defaulter. But in the instant case, he maintained, the chairman National Accountability Bureau illegally took the decision without seeking the mandatory opinion from the governor of the SBP.

He also said NAB had intentionally delayed the disposal of the references against the PML-N chief as successive governments always wanted to use these cases to defame the family during the general elections.

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