ISLAMABAD/LONDON: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s son, Suleman Shehbaz, is set to return to Pakistan after four years of self-exile in London, it emerged on Wednesday.

Mr Sharif, who left London for Madina to perform Umrah, is expected to reach Pakistan over the weekend.

He has already sought protective bail from the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that would enable him to surrender before a trial court.

Mr Sharif has been in London with his family since 2018, when the National Accountability Bureau registered multiple cases against him ahead of the general election.

Arrest warrants had been issued for Mr Shahbaz on May 28, but the FIA told the court they could not be executed since Mr Shehbaz was not present at his address and had gone abroad.

A trial court declared him a proclaimed offender, along with another suspect in a Rs16 billion money laundering case, in July this year.

In December 2021, FIA submitted a challan against Shehbaz and Hamza to the special court for their alleged involvement in laundering Rs16 billion in a sugar scam.

According to the FIA report submitted to the court, the investigation team “detected 28 benami accounts of the Shehbaz family through which money laundering of Rs16.3bn was committed from 2008-18. The FIA examined a money trail of 17,000 credit transactions.”

The report added that the amount was kept in “hidden accounts” and “given to Shehbaz in a personal capacity”.

In a statement, Mr Sharif said he was forced to leave Pakistan for the sake of his safety after “fake and manipulated cases” were registered against him and his family in order to “facilitate a new political order”.

“These cases were the worst example of political witch-hunt and political victimisation. There was no truth and not a scintilla of evidence of corruption in the cases cooked up by the National Accountability Bureau under the former NAB chairman Javed Iqbal and the Assets Recovery Unit,” he said.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2022

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