LAHORE: The counsel for the Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly, Shehbaz Sharif, told the Lahore High Court on Tuesday that none of the prosecution witnesses in a reference of money laundering accused his client of any offence or corrupt practice.
Even an approver of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) did not attribute any illegal act to Shehbaz, said Advocate Azam Nair Tarar during his concluding arguments before a two-judge bench hearing the post-arrest bail petition of the PML-N president.
The counsel stated that the sole allegation against Mr Shehbaz was that his children were his benamidars, who allegedly accumulated assets worth Rs7 billion. He said the NAB had no proof of any offence against the petitioner.
He said the only attribution Mushtaq Cheeni, an approver, made against the petitioner was that he worked with Suleman Shehbaz for being son of the then chief minister. “The approver did not say anywhere that Shehbaz asked him for any illegal act,” the counsel said.
Pressing the ground of delay in the trial proceedings, Advocate Tarar pointed out that so far ten out of the total 110 prosecution witnesses testified and the processes of the evidence recording came to a halt since transfer of the trial judge.
He further stated that the trial court itself told the Supreme Court that it would take ten to twelve months to conclude the trial. He said the NAB arrested a 70-year-old and medically compromised person without any cogent evidence.
Headed by Justice Sardar Muhammad Sarfraz Dogar, the bench adjourned the hearing till Wednesday (today) as a special prosecutor sought to start his arguments on behalf of the NAB.
The bench also separated the bail matter of Shehbaz from the petitions of other suspects in the reference.
In his petition, Mr Shehbaz alleged the NAB proceedings against him had been prompted by mala fide intention, ulterior motive and considerations extraneous to law. He said the registration of a series of cases in quick succession against him and his repeated arrests at the behest of the government had been a classic example of misuse of the process of NAB to muffle the voice of the opposition.
He said the bureau failed to collect any evidence of any corruption, kickbacks, misuse of any public office for personal gain by him throughout his political career.
The opposition leader said he had been facing inquiry on the allegation of assets beyond means since 2018 and after having failed to confront him with any illegal asset, the bureau thought it appropriate to attribute assets of his other family members and third parties to him without any evidence.
Shehbaz was arrested on Sept 28, 2020, in the money laundering reference.
Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2021