ISLAMABAD: PML-N leaders Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Marriyum Aurangzeb addressing a press conference on Monday.—White Star
ISLAMABAD: PML-N leaders Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Marriyum Aurangzeb addressing a press conference on Monday.—White Star

LAHORE: As the National Accountability Bureau on Monday warned Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president and opposition leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif of “serious consequences” for not cooperating with the anti-graft watchdog, the opposition PML-N demanded “live broadcast of questioning from him” during his appearance on Wednesday.

In a statement issued on Monday, NAB sounded categorical, saying: “In case of no cooperation with the national institution (by Shahbaz Sharif), the law has the right to take its due course.”

The bureau has summoned Mr Sharif on April 22 (tomorrow) in a money laundering and income beyond means investigation.

Earlier, Mr Sharif had skipped a NAB hearing on Friday last on medical reasons. He said he was 69 years old and a known cancer survivor with low immunity, thus medical professionals had strictly advised him restricted movements and limited exposure due to life-threatening risks on account of the Covid-19 pandemic.

PML-N seeks live broadcast of questioning of opposition leader facing money laundering allegation

In a presser issued in Islamabad on Monday, PML-N senior leaders — former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Marriyum Aurangzeb and Musadiq Malik — asked NAB to show live the question-answer session with Mr Sharif on April 22 so that the people could know about facts of this investigation.

“If the opposition leader is not safe from NAB tactics then who will do politics and investment here,” Mr Abbasi questioned.

“We also demand that NAB should also quiz Prime Minister Imran Khan and his adviser Shahzad Akbar in income beyond means investigation and show the proceedings live,” he said and added that the people knew the background of Shahzad Akbar who after drumming about corruption in 56 companies brought a British journalist by offering him money to do a story against Mr Sharif.

The former premier further said the apex court had given its observation in the Saad Rafique case that NAB was either incompetent or dishonest. NAB had claimed to have received solid evidence against Mr Sharif during a raid at his daughter’s house some six months ago, where was that evidence,” he asked.

The PML-N leader further said false cases had been instituted against the opposition leader. Mr Sharif was arrested in October 2018 in the Saaf Pani case, later in the Ashiyana case and subsequently in a case involving construction of a bridge on a drain, but no charge of corruption or misuse of authority was established against him and he got bail from the Lahore High Court in February 2019. And now failing to find any other charge NAB had launched the income beyond means investigation against him, he added.

The former prime minister asked why NAB was not seeing corruption in the sugar and flour scam and why it was shying away from looking into matters of the finance ministry, the State Bank of Pakistan and the Karachi Port Trust.

Mr Abbasi said the opposition wanted to cooperate with the government in this testing time because of the Covid-19 outbreak but it (government) had other priorities — fix the opposition through false cases. “What’s the method in the government’s policy to summon the opposition leader who is a cancer survivor through NAB in the investigation in which he had already submitted record of his income and expenditures with FBR (Federal Board of Revenue) details,” Mr Abbasi asked.

Meanwhile, the PML-N submitted a resolution in the Punjab Assembly in which it chided NAB for summoning Mr Sharif in the income beyond means and money laundering investigation.

The resolution filed by MPA Sumera Komal said that NAB was misusing its authority in this matter. It said NAB had failed to provide any proof against Mr Sharif and other PML-N leaders in false cases against them.

“Shahbaz Sharif had emerged clean in the apex court in NAB’s false cases. NAB has lost its credibility because of its partisan, therefore, the Punjab Assembly is requested to stop the bureau from proceeding against Shahbaz Sharif in the income beyond means investigation,” it said.

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2020

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