ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has welcomed the decision of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Adm (r) Fasih Bukhari to reopen three alleged corruption references against its top leaders, Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif.
“Nothing was found against the Sharif brothers when the Benazir Bhutto government, which constituted these cases, and the Pervez Musharraf regime separately tried for years to get something concrete out of them. Same will be the fate of the present campaign,” senior PML-N spokesman Senator Pervaiz Rashid told The News, when approached for comments.
In his own way, he also “congratulated” Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on what he said the acceptance of his demand by President Asif Ali Zardari to revive cases against the Sharif brothers. “This proves our claim about the collusion between the two with the motive of damaging the PML-N.”
Pervaiz Rashid said in none of these cases public money or use of the official authority by the Nawaz Sharif government was involved or alleged. The references contain charges about the business dealings of Sharifs’ industries.
He said that the lawyers of the business house would contest the cases in the accountability courts. Even before the NAB chief’s decision, a plea has been filed in the Lahore High Court (LHC), seeking quashment of these cases as they have no basis to continue, he claimed.
Pervaiz Rashid said that after the nuclear detonations in May 1998, the Sharif family handed over all of its properties worth Rs03 billion to a consortium of banks to sell them and recover their approximately Rs1.25 billion loans.
“It is for the consortium to sell the properties, which are now valued at about Rs11 billion,” the spokesman said adding that the business family was not a hurdle in their disposal.
Talking about the reference relating to the Hudaibia Paper Mills, he said it was instituted by the Benazir Bhutto government when the unit was being set up. He claimed that her government ordered all the banks, which then were in the public sector, to stop providing capital to the company. As a result, the business house arranged foreign investment as provided in the law, which was still in force.
Pervaiz Rashid said this was borrowing from foreign sources, and it was not money laundering as alleged. This case, he said, came to an end in the LHC in 1998. But Pervaiz Musharraf revived it so that the Sharif brothers could be convicted in it if they were acquitted in the plane hijacking case. However, when they were sentenced in plane case, Pervez Musharraf lost interest in the other case.
The second reference pertaining to Ittefaq Foundry (wilful loan default) was also prepared when the government of the time directed the banks not to provide working capital to the unit, Pervaiz Rashid said.
He said that the third reopened reference alleging assets beyond known sources of income was of no consequences because all the assets of the Sharif brothers were declared and their sources of income were known.
The NAB chairman signed an application, requesting the accountability court to reopen these references against the Sharif brothers and to contest thee quashment petition which was filed by the Sharifs in the LHC in October 2011. He took this decision on the recommendation of a special committee, constituted by him under the supervision of the NAB prosecutor general, who is an old close friend of the top constitutional office holder.
While Bukhari sought revival of the cases, NAB continues to be indecisive about the fate of a reference submitted by Advisir to the Prime Minister on Interior, Rehman Malik, to it against the Sharif brothers in which he charged them with money laundering of $32 million. The special committee is still reviewing it.