ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) supreme leader Nawaz Sharif, who is facing three corruption references filed by the National Accountability Bureau on the order of the Supreme Court, regretted on Tuesday that during his stint in power he could not take steps to abolish “draconian NAB laws”.
“I have now realised that the NAB laws are draconian in nature. All the laws introduced by dictators must be abolished,” he said while talking to journalists during accountability court proceedings.
The former prime minister said the poor litigants were not getting justice as they did not have enough resources to fight the decades-long litigation and sometimes had to sell their properties to pursue the cases.
Criticising the excessive suo motu notices taken by Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar regarding the quality of milk, hospitals and medicines, Mr Sharif said it would have been a great service of the CJP had he devoted such time to timely administration of justice to ordinary litigants. “Such matters may have been taken up upon receipt of any complaint,” he added.
Responding to a question about NAB investigation into the appointment of Dr Mukhtar Ahmed as chairman of the Higher Education Commission which had been approved when he [Mr Sharif] was prime minister, the PML-N supreme leader said the bureau was investigating the matters even prior to his birth. He suggested that NAB, besides other decades-old cases, also investigate the appointment by him of Justice Saqib Nisar as law secretary in 1997.
Advises CJP to work for timely administration of justice to ordinary litigants
“NAB may also investigate how I appointed Justice Nisar as law secretary who was a practising lawyer at that time,” he said.
Mr Sharif said what was happening in Pakistan was unprecedented and never happened in the entire world. He added that when military dictators imposed restrictions and censorships on media, the aggrieved parties moved courts against these to ensure freedom of expression. “However, in our case, it is otherwise,” he claimed.
Mr Sharif said he was not even sure if any newspaper or TV channel would carry his interaction with the media on censorship.
Referring to the CJP’s remarks that the apex court could issue a stay order against Orange Line Metro Train, he said this project was aimed at providing speedy and inexpensive transportation to the general public. “What will you get by shutting down a service meant for poor people? I can bear all the injustice on myself, but will not tolerate any unfair treatment to the people of Pakistan,” he warned.
The cross-examination of prosecution witness NAB director general (operations) Zahir Shah in the Avenfiled apartments reference came to an end on Tuesday.
Defence counsel Amjad Pervez claimed that NAB deliberately leaked the documents it had received from the UK Central Authority (UKCA) in order to defame the Sharif family.
During the cross-examination, Mr Shah admitted that these documents were in his sole custody from March 21 to 27 when he handed these over to the investigation officers. He also produced before the accountability court additional documents related to the Flagship reference which were acquired from the UKCA through mutual legal assistance (MLA).
The court directed Mr Shah to produce the requests initiated under MLA as Khawaja Haris Ahmad, the counsel for the Sharif family, asked for these documents.
When Mr Shah was asked about Volume-X of the JIT report, he said the NAB prosecution wing had through a letter to the Supreme Court registrar got Volume-X and its relevant portions were handed over to the investigation officers.
The Flagship reference is about the offshore companies, including Flagship Investments Limited, Hartstone Properties Limited, Que Holdings Limited, Quint Eaton Place 2 Limited, Quint Saloane Limited (formerly Quint Eaton Place Limited), Quaint Limited, Flagship Securities Limited, Quint Gloucester Place Limited, Quint Paddington Limited (formerly Rivates Estates Limited), Flagship Developments Limited, Alanna Services Limited (British Virgin Island-BVI), Lankin SA (BVI), Chadron Inc, Ansbacher Inc, Coomber Inc and Capital FZE (Dubai). Nawaz Sharif is the sole accused facing this reference as his sons Hussain and Hassan have been declared absconder in this case.
Zahir Shah produced before the court annual returns of these companies, memorandum of article of association, list of directors and shareholders and official title of registry of some properties in the name of some offshore companies.
Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2018