Govt firms up plans for another case against Shehbaz

Published January 12, 2022
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry addresses a press conference after a meeting of the federal cabinet in Islamabad on Tuesday. — PID
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry addresses a press conference after a meeting of the federal cabinet in Islamabad on Tuesday. — PID

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government is putting final touches to a plan to proceed against opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif for submitting a “false affidavit” regarding the treatment and expected return of his elder brother and former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif.

In a meeting on Tuesday, the federal cabinet decided to file a case against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief before the Lahore High Court (LHC) and seek his disqualification from the National Assembly.

Nawaz Sharif had left the country in 2019 on the basis of an affidavit filed by his brother after his seven-year sentence for corruption was suspended by the Islamabad High Court for eight weeks so that he could seek medical treatment abroad. He never returned and was declared a proclaimed offender by multiple courts and termed an “absconder” by the government.

“The cabinet decided to file a case against Shehbaz Sharif for giving a fake undertaking for return of his elder brother after treatment. Nawaz Sharif went abroad as a result of fraud and his activities in London make a mockery of the state of Pakistan and its laws,” Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told a post-cabinet press briefing.

Cabinet okays 6,000-apartment project in capital for overseas Pakistanis

During a recent visit to Karachi, Mr Chaudhry had revealed the government’s intention to proceed against the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, saying the government had instructed the attorney general to ask the LHC to either bring back PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif or take action against Shehbaz Sharif.

On Tuesday, the cabinet formally tasked Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan with this.

Explaining the rationale behind the decision, Mr Chaudhry contended that “Shehbaz Sharif filed a fake affidavit, which is a violation of Article 63 of the Constitution and he should be penalised for this offence”.

“It was the decision of the federal cabinet to allow Nawaz Sharif to go abroad, subject to submission of a surety bond worth Rs7 billion, but his younger brother approached the court and submitted a personal guarantee, which ensured the former’s departure from the country. However, Nawaz Sharif did not undergo any treatment in London despite the passage of some 17 months, which clearly demonstrates his mala fide intent in going abroad to evade accountability,” the minister said.

During Tuesday’s press conference, information minister said the “drama” of Nawaz Sharif’s illness was a total fabrication.

He claimed Nawaz Sharif’s medical reports were to be shared with doctors from the Pakistan embassy in London and said the family was contacted twice by the embassy on the orders of the high court, but they refused to provide any information.

“Such tactics prove that Shehbaz Sharif was fully involved in the fraud of sending Nawaz Sharif abroad on the pretext of his medical condition,” he added.

The issue of the affidavit submitted by the PML-N leader came to the fore after rumours began circulating about the possibility of Nawaz’s return under a purported deal with the establishment.

In a tweet, Mr Chaudhry had reacted to reports about the former PM’s possible return and alleged that the PML-N leadership was bending over backwards in a bid to secure establishment support for concessions for Nawaz, but they are not being entertained.

Later, Shehbaz Sharif categorically said that Nawaz would not return to Pakistan until he had fully recovered, while the military’s spokesperson had categorically rejected the possibility of any deal between the PML-N and the army in a recent press conference.

Other decisions

The cabinet was also told that a high-level committee formed by the Punjab government would fix responsibility for the tragic events that unfolded in Murree last weekend.

The minister claimed the PTI government had revolutionised the domestic tourism industry in its three years in power, adding that 13 new tourist resorts had been developed during this time.

Mr Chaudhry also said the government would provide electronic voting machines (EVMs) to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) before April 15 for use in the Islamabad local government polls.

Briefing reporters on other decisions taken by the cabinet, he said Asif Rashid has been appointed as chairman of the Intellectual Property Organisation (IPO).

The cabinet also gave approval for making the Securities Exchange Commission of Pakistan the regulator of ‘Credit Guarantee Trust Fund’, under the Islamabad Capital Territory Trust Act, 2020, to prevent illicit capital from being transferred abroad.

The minister said the government would soon launch a 400-kanal housing project in Islamabad for overseas Pakistanis, with 6,000 apartments. This initiative, he said was aimed at enabling overseas Pakistanis to buy properties in Pakistan, especially in Islamabad, adding that the project was expected to generate around $2 billion.

The cabinet has also directed the ministries of interior and finance to hold deliberations with the Board of Investment and review schemes to facilitate foreigners who are interested in buying properties in Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2022

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