ISLAMABAD: Testifying before the accountability court in the Flagship Investment reference on Wednesday, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif said that he had been dragged into the controversy by his political rivals.
Mr Sharif responded to 137 of the total 141 questions put to him by Accountability Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik under Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code under which an accused person is given an opportunity to rebut the prosecution evidence or share any relevant material with the court.
In response to a question as to why he had been implicated in this case, the PML-N supremo said that rival politicians had levelled allegations against him and the Wajid Zia-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) and investigation officer of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had falsely nominated him in this case.
JIT deliberately avoided recording statement of Qatari prince, former PM says
Addressing Mr Sharif, the judge said that while he was prime minister he was too busy to have oversight of the business of his children, but after the JIT and NAB started investigations, he might have sought details from his sons about their business.
Mr Sharif said that his children were not dependent on him as they were independently running their businesses. He said that his son, Hassan Nawaz, was running a business of sale and purchase of property through different companies.
Mr Sharif said that his late father Mian Mohammad Sharif had looked after his entire family during the period he was forced to live in exile. “And it was my father who set up businesses for my sons to enable them to earn a livelihood.”
The judge remarked that the matter could have been solved had Hussain Nawaz or Qatari Prince Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani joined the investigation.
The ex-PM said that since he had never been associated with any of the businesses of his children, he did not rely upon the letter of the Qatari prince in defence.
He said the JIT members “deliberately and dishonestly” avoided recording Al-Thani’s statement since the Qatari prince verified the stance of the Sharif family with regard to the money trail.
“Prince Al-Thani even asked for the questionnaire from the JIT prior to their visit to Doha…it is only after the JIT maliciously refused to accede to his very reasonable request…on contrary [JIT] imposed strict and unreasonable conditions for recording of statement,” Mr Sharif said, adding that the JIT never tried to dispel the impression they had created in the mind of the Qatari prince.
About his employment with Capital FZE, the company owned by his son Hussain, Mr Sharif said that he had been associated with the company only “for the sole purpose of facilitating my travel to and from the United Arab Emirates, initially during the period of my exile”.
The Supreme Court in its July 28 judgement had disqualified Nawaz Sharif from holding a public office for not declaring un-withdrawn salary from the Capital FZE in his assets’ declaration.
In his testimony, Mr Sharif questioned the legality of the JIT’s requests seeking mutual legal assistance from the UAE and said that it was not admissible evidence as per the law of evidence.
Judge Malik then adjourned the proceedings till Thursday (today).
Khawaja Haris, the counsel for Mr Sharif, assured the judge that his client would complete his testimony on Thursday and then he would continue final arguments in the Al-Azizia reference.
Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2018