PML-N's Khawaja Asif released on bail in assets beyond means case

Published June 24, 2021
Khawaja Asif speaks during an interview with Reuters at his office in Islamabad on March 6, 2014. – Reuters/File
Khawaja Asif speaks during an interview with Reuters at his office in Islamabad on March 6, 2014. – Reuters/File

PML-N senior leader Khawaja Asif was released on Thursday on post-arrest bail in a case of assets beyond means and money laundering initiated against him by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Asif was granted post-arrest bail on Wednesday (yesterday) by a two-member bench of the Lahore High Court, comprising Justice Alia Neelum and Justice Syed Shahbaz Ali Rizvi, which had ordered his release from jail upon the submission of a bail bond worth Rs10 million.

"The instant petition is accepted and the petitioner is admitted to post-arrest bail subject to his furnishing bail bonds in the sum of Rs10 million with one surety in the like amount to the satisfaction of the learned trial court," said the short court order, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com.

NAB's prosecution team had failed to satisfy the two-judge bench on several queries during the concluding hearing of Asif's bail petition. Arguments on the PML-N leader's bail application were completed in three days.

An accountability court issued Asif's release order today, after the submission of bail bonds worth Rs10 million, which were delivered to the superintendent of Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail.

"Bail bonds have been accepted. Therefore, you are hereby directed to release him from judicial custody if not required in any other case/reference," said the release order, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com.

Asif’s counsel Haider Rasul Mirza said the PML-N leader was released from Lahore's Jinnah Hospital by prison authorities upon completing their investigation of the release order.

Asif had been shifted to the hospital from jail on March 11 due to a hernia and was undergoing treatment since then.

NAB had arrested Asif in Islamabad on Dec 29, 2020, and later shifted him to Lahore where he was under physical remand till Jan 22. Since then he was under judicial remand till his release today. The former minister is a sitting MNA of the PML-N from NA-73, Sialkot.

The accountability watchdog has alleged that Asif had failed to explain the sources of his income and assets. It had said he was first elected senator in 1991 when his assets stood at around Rs5m. It said Asif's assets had swelled to Rs221m by 2018, which were beyond the known sources of his income.

It added that Asif had yet to disclose the source of income of a foreign remittance he received from Dubai amounting to Rs100m.

In a bail petition sought from the LHC in March, Asif's legal counsel contended that the petitioner, during his 22-day physical remand with the NAB, had not been confronted with any evidence that could prove that he owned assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.

The petition had contended that no recovery had been made from Asif that could connect him with the allegations of corruption as alleged in the grounds of his arrest. It had asked the court to release the petitioner on bail.

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