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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Al-Azizia corruption reference: Nawaz trying to save a sinking ship?

News Analysis|

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appeared before the accountability court on Monday for the hearing of the Al Azizia Steel Mills reference and said that the investigation report prepared by joint investigation team was based on prejudice and not backed by evidence.

Accountability court Judge Arshad Malik chaired the proceeding of Al-Azizia corruption reference against Sharif family, filed by National Accountability Bureau. Nawaz Sharif recorded his statement before the court, asserting that JIT report did not have acceptable evidence.

Sharif claimed that the amount transferred to his bank account from abroad was not concealed and the Federal Board of Revenue had all the records of it. He said he had provided JIT all the required documents including his income tax returns and wealth investment details.

The former premier has filed a plea in SC rejecting the JIT report and said that he has pointed out in the plea that the JIT is a mere investigative body and hence, any statement recorded by it cannot be presented as evidence in the court.

Read More: Al Azizia Reference: Prosecution witnesses record statements against Sharif

Nawaz has recorded his responses to 120 out of the 151 questions listed on the questionnaire. According to the charge sheet against the former premier in the Al-Azizia reference, Mr. Sharif has been accused of owning assets which are disproportionate to his known sources of income. It says transactions have been carried out between Mr. Sharif’s family members and their companies without any credible explanation and consideration.

In the last hearing on Nov 15, Nawaz Sharif disassociated himself from the letters of Qatari Prince Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber Al-Thani’s, which the Sharif family had submitted as evidence during the proceedings of Panama case last year.

While recording his statement before the accountability court in the Al-Azizia corruption reference hearing, Nawaz said, “I have no relation with the Qatari prince’s letters.” He claimed that his name did not “figure in any capacity whatsoever in the two letters written by Prince Hamad bin Jassim”.

Read More: Al-Azizia corruption reference: Is Nawaz going to jail again?

First, he denied any association with Qatari letters and once again working on technicalities in his plea he has maintained that statements recorded by JIT cannot be presented as evidence.

Whether these technicalities save the PMLN leader or not, is yet to be seen, but on political ground, PMLN has seemed to lose the battle as corruption cases are being filed by NAB against all top guns of the party. From pre-arrest bails to fleeing the country and missing the hearings, panic in the leadership of PMLN is very obvious.