ISLAMABAD: Former premier Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had no authority to make statements regarding arrest of his opponents, and termed the recent arrest of Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif ‘political victimisation’ in the name of accountability.

In a brief interaction with reporters after appearing before an accountability court in the Al-Azizia reference, the ousted prime minister said Shahbaz Sharif in his capacity as chief minister had worked day and night to uplift the less developed districts even in far-flung central and southern Punjab.

The PML-N supremo said the company that the Punjab government had rejected to execute the Metro Bus project was given a contract by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and this needed to be probed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

In response to Prime Minister Khan’s recent remarks about not sparing the corrupt people, Mr Sharif wondered: “Who has given him (Khan) authority to utter such words that he will arrest 50 people? Do such claims suit the government?”

The government, he added, was politically victimising the opponents in the name of accountability.

In response to a question, Mr Sharif said there was a dire need to revisit and overhaul NAB laws, as well as ‘black’ laws promulgated by former military dictator retired Gen Pervez Musharraf. He said the PML-N had set a good tradition as it did not use the draconian laws promulgated by the dictators against anyone and promoted a tolerance-based political culture.

According to him, the current economic turmoil was due to targeted operations by the government against the opposition. Such intolerance, he said, had destabilised the country that led to the downfall of stocks and devaluation of the rupee.

Al-Azizia reference

The prosecution in the Al-Azizia reference informed the accountability court that he had neither written any letter to Qatari Prince Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani nor sought permission from the competent authority to record his statement.

During his cross-examination, investigation officer in the Al-Azizia reference Mehboob Alam, who was the last prosecution witness in the case, said: “I did not associate any person in investigation who may have drawn payment from the account of Nawaz Sharif.”

While defence counsel Khawaja Haris was yet to conclude cross-examination of the witness, the court adjour­ned the proceedings till Wednesday.

Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2018

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