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Sunday April 21, 2024

PM, son acquitted by NAB court

Shehbaz thankful to Allah over acquittal in ‘false’ money laundering case

By Ag App & Numan Wahab
July 21, 2023
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif (L) and former chief minister Punjab Hamza Shahbaz. — AFP/File
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif (L) and former chief minister Punjab Hamza Shahbaz. — AFP/File

LAHORE: The Accountability Court on Thursday acquitted Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shehbaz in Rs7 billion assets beyond means and money laundering reference.

Accountability Court Judge Qamar Zaman announced the verdict while accepting the acquittal pleas of the premier, his wife, son and others. The court also acquitted PM’s wife Nusrat Shahbaz, Javeria Ali (PM’s daughter), Muhammad Usman, Masroor Anwar, Shoaib Qamar, Qasim Qayyum, Rashid Karamat, Ali Ahmed and Nisar Ahmed. However, the court issued a perpetual arrest warrant for Shehbaz’s daughter Rabia Imran, who had been declared an absconder in the case.

It is worth noting that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) declared Shehbaz Sharif and others innocent in a supplementary reference filed after Shehbaz was sworn in as the prime minister. In the main reference, the bureau had declared PM Shehbaz and his family guilty in Rs7 billion references of money laundering and assets beyond means.

NAB had claimed that in the last 30 years, the assets of Shehbaz Sharif and his family had increased from Rs2 to over Rs7 billion, which the family had failed to justify. The NAB had alleged that accused Shehbaz, in connivance with his co-accused family members, benamidars, front men, close associates, employees and moneychangers, had devised an organised system of money laundering for the accumulation of assets disproportionate to his known sources of income to the tune of Rs7.3 billion.

Consequently, the accountability watchdog nominated Shehbaz, his wife Nusrat Shehbaz, sons Hamza and Suleman Shehbaz, and daughters Rabia Imran and Javeria Ali in the references. The other nominated accused were Nisar Ahmad, Syed Muhammad Tahir Naqvi, Ali Muhammad Khan, Qasim Qayyum, Rashid Karamat, Masroor Anwar, Muhammad Usman, Fazal Dad Abbasi, Muhammad Shoaib Qamar, and Haroon Yousaf Aziz.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that he was thankful to Allah Almighty for his acquittal and that of his son by the Accountability Court of Lahore in a “false and baseless” case of money laundering based on political revenge. He said that this was the same case in which the National Crime Agency of Britain, with a global reputation, searched the 40-year record collected from three countries, for two years and gave him a clean chit after finding nothing.

The prime minister recalled that a news item was deliberately published in UK’s Daily Mail about the alleged embezzlement of DFID funds, but even in that, Allah vindicated him and the publication had to apologize. “This was the same case in which I was wrongfully arrested twice, Hamza Shehbaz was kept in prison and Hamza was not even taken to a doctor despite being seriously ill during the Corona pandemic. He was not even allowed to meet his minor daughter,” Prime Minister Shehbaz recounted in a Tweet.

He questioned whether there could be any compensation for the “Whatsapp accountability”, the “worst” media trial, and imprisonment despite being innocent. Shehbaz said those who indulged in political revenge had received an answer in the world, but they would have to give an account of that cruelty on the Day of Judgment.

The prime minister also thanked his benefactors, friends, lawyers and the public for supporting him and his son, believing in their innocence and encouraging them everywhere during victimisation.