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March 8, 2018

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Never indulged in horse-trading: Nawaz

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has said that he has never done horse trading, questioning how former president Asif Zardari’s men became senators. He was talking to the media outside the Accountability Court on Wednesday.

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He said if the political parties are victims of rigging in the Senate elections, then they must unanimously agree on a counter strategy and the PML-N would join them. He said: “We do not like horse trading and the PML-N was never nvolved in this activity.” Nawaz said there should be an investigation into the allegations of horse trading.

During the Accountability Court hearing, Nawaz briefly talked to the media and also sought exemption saying he is not feeling well. The Accountability Court then allowed him to go early. It recorded the statements of the four prosecution witnesses, including Shahid Mehmood, Waqar Ahmed, Umar Daraz and Hassan Riaz Kirmani in Flagship and Al-Azizia and Hill Metal Establishment corruption references. The legal counsel for Nawaz, Khawaja Haris, completed his cross-examination of the witnesses. The first prosecution witness, Shahid Mehmood, provided to the court videos and transcripts of Nawaz Sharif's speeches and his address to the National Assembly after the Panama issue surfaced in 2016.

The second witness Waqar Ahmed submitted before the court that the record was handed over in his presence to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Umar Draz Gondal who had already recorded his statement in the Avenfield Corruption Reference said he delivered the summons for Nawaz Sharif at his Jati Umra residence where the security official Muhammad Arif received the summons. During cross-examination, Gondal said he did not meet Nawaz Sharif and neither talked to him as his interaction remained limited to the security official Muhammad Arif.

Hassan Riaz Kirmani provided details of an account in the name of Khawaja Haroon Pasha that received money transactions from the Hill Metal Establishment on different occasions. Kirmani, a banker, said the account was opened in 2014.

Meanwhile, the head of joint investigation team (JIT) Wajid Zia would record his statement here on Thursday (today) in the Avenfield Apartments Corruption Reference, after the accountability court on March 2 dismissed Nawaz Sharif's application to record Wajid Zia's statement at a single time in all the three corruption references.

Zia would record his testimony in line with the nine volumes of the JIT report. The Supreme Court on Wednesday extended the time period for conclusion of these corruption references. It had earlier fixed a six month deadline for the adjudication of this matter in its July 28, 2017 judgment. Due to filing of supplementary references, the trial will take more time to conclude. The Accountability Court in this context had written to the apex court seeking extension in the time which was allowed by the Supreme Court.

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