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PTI & PML-N grapple over Shahbaz Sharif’s “acquittal”

Shahbaz Sharif's alleged acquittal has caused quite a storm in Pakistan. While PML-N celebrated the news, PTI's Shahzad Akbar held a press conference to set the narrative straight. In response, the PML-N leaders held a media briefing where they hit back at Shahzad Akbar's statements.

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The recent news of Shahbaz Sharif’s alleged “acquittal” took Pakistan’s political world by storm. PML-N considers it a testament to Shahbaz Sharif’s innocence, while PTI resolutely maintains that the news is false.

Earlier, news came of a UK court deciding to unfreeze Shahbaz Sharif and his son Suleiman’s accounts as the country’s National Crime Agency (NCA) failed to find any evidence of money laundering against the PML-N leader. Interestingly, the decision sparked cries that Shahbaz Sharif got acquitted.

The PML-N hailed the decision. It called it an embarrassment for PM Khan who peddled the corruption and money laundering allegations against the Sharif family.

Read more: UK fails to find evidence against Shahbaz Sharif’s corruption?

However, SAPM Shahzad Akbar rejected the impression of Shahbaz Sharif’s acquittal in the money laundering case in London.

While addressing a press conference, he clarified that the order released by the UK court does not mention the acquittal. Moreover, neither the Asset Recovery Unit (ARU) nor the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) demanded NCA to investigate the PML-N leader over money laundering.

In fact, the NCA itself contacted the institutions and asked for details of criminal inquiries and convictions against the individuals they were investigating.

The ARU only answered the NCA’s queries in a letter and provided various details on pending investigations concerning Shehbaz and his family in 2019.

Media portraying that ARU and NAB initiated the investigation is “incorrect and misreporting.”

Read more: Fawad Chaudhry calls out foreign media for publishing fake news against Pakistan

Case against Suleiman Shahbaz, not Shahbaz Sharif?

SAPM Shahzad Akbar also clarified that the initial asset freezing order (AFO) was against Suleiman Shahbaz, not Shahbaz Sharif.

Recently, he shared the court order by the UK on Twitter to set the narrative straight.  Akbar also called upon the journalist community to peruse the order and see whether Shahbaz’s name was on the order.

“What was most surprising […] is that the case is against Suleiman and the AFO was issued against him, but the narrative being built since yesterday is that Shahbaz has been vindicated. How has he been vindicated?” Shahzad Akbar questioned during the press conference.

Read more: Is Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif in the making?

PML-N hits back at PTI

As a response, the PML-N had a lot to say about Shahzad Akbar’s statements. In a press conference with Rana Sanaullah and Ahsan Iqbal, former PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi lashed out at the government.

He said that the government embarrassed itself in front of the world with the NCA probe.

“The standard set by this government, when it comes to lying, is totally unique,” he said. “The prime minister of this country, in his own office, creates an Asset Recovery Unit that has no legal basis. And what has that ARU done?” he questioned.

Abbasi alleged that DG NAB Lahore, the ARU, FIA, and other agencies were involved in framing allegations against the PML-N president. “And now, the prime minister of this country says his government had nothing to do with the probe,” he said.

Read more: Appoint me NAB Chairman: Shahid Khaqan

Taking over, PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal said that the government could not, till this day, find evidence of former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s involvement in corruption.

Ahsan Iqbal also said UK authorities are extremely strict. They would never have taken the decision of unfreezing the assets, had they found even an inkling of money laundering.

He further said that the government is failing the masses as it is busy registering fake cases against the Opposition. “However, your failure is becoming a matter of life and death for the public,” Ahsan Iqbal said.

 

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