Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday said that had the Sharifs not been handed amnesty under the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) by former president retired General Pervez Musharraf, money laundering would have been eliminated in the country.
Prime Minister Khan made these remarks during an informal meeting with Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry at his Banigala residence, according to the PM Office.
"If the Sharif family were not granted [a pardon under] NRO courtesy General Musharraf in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case and if the judgment was made on merit, then today the menace of money laundering would have been eradicated in Pakistan," the premier was quoted as saying.
The 2000 Hudaibiya Paper Mills money laundering reference was initiated on the basis of an April 25, 2000, confession statement from Ishaq Dar, wherein he admitted to his role in laundering money to the tune of $14.86 million on behalf of the Sharifs through fictitious accounts.
The witness was, however, pardoned by the then NAB chairman.
The NRO was promulgated in Oct 2007 by the government of the then president Musharraf. Under the ordinance, cases against politicians were removed, paving the way for many of their return to country.
The premier regretted that the NRO obtained in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case was used as a model in all subsequent cases of money laundering.
"To date, all such cases that have emerged have used the NRO obtained in the Hudaibiya case as a model. In these cases, money was sent abroad through frontmen and then recalled," said the prime minister.
He said that based on the Hudaibiya precedent, money laundering cases against PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari were also given the same treatment.
The prime minister, according to the PM Office, instructed Chaudhry to unveil the true face of those who wish to mislead the public and to inform the people of their "wicked deeds which had thrust the country into the quagmire of inflation and foreign debt".
Editorial: Benami law
The premier further stated that there should be accountability for the $60bn debt borrowed over the past ten years and that the people should be made aware of who has made the country indebted and filled their own coffers with vast sums.
Prime Minister Khan said that the new rules made by the incumbent government to prevent transactions through benami accounts will prove beneficial to curtail money laundering and to discourage the holding of properties on the name of another for concealment purposes.