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Nawaz Sharif indicated in three graft references

27 September, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday came down hard on the superior judiciary while raising serious doubts over the accountability process started against him and his family in the backdrop of Panama Papers case that led to his disqualification by the Supreme Court on July 28.

“I was ousted on the report of a joint investigation team whose members were chosen through a WhatsApp call and many of them were already facing inquiries,” the deposed prime minister told a crowded press conference here at the Punjab House after his maiden appearance before an accountability court hearing graft references against him and his family.

“When they could not find any proof of wrongdoing against me, they constituted a joint investigation team. The same judges announced the decision on the basis of the JIT report and ordered NAB to file references against us,” Nawaz said.

“They could not prove any corruption against me. But since they were bent on disqualifying me, so my iqama was used,” he alleged. “I faced the ‘Panama drama’ ... me and my family faced the JIT ... in a case in which whole burden of proof was placed on us. There were elements who had already conducted their own inquiries against us ... the elements against whom even Supreme Court cannot take any action,” he further alleged. “They had already decided to punish me, so they used iqama as a pretext. But, they must have told the nation that they had totally failed to prove any wrongdoing or corruption against me,” he maintained. “I very well know what crime I am being punished for.”

“Now, the same court has taken over the National Accountability Bureau ... and most probably the same court will hear my last appeal as well,” the former prime minister said, further asking, “Is this called the rule of law? Is this how justice works? I was not even given the right to appeal. Can this be called a fair trial?” “Such decisions are announced and even implemented but no one accepts them,” he said, and affirmed that 20 million people should instead be allowed to decide who is Sadiq and Ameen. “Let people decide on qualification and disqualification of their leaders through vote.”

The ousted PML-N chief said his party’s victory in 2018 general elections will overrule all court verdicts. “The verdict on my first appeal against SC ruling by the court of people was given by thousands who came out to support me during my GT Road rally to Lahore,” he said. “My second appeal was responded to by the people in the shape of huge win in NA-120 by-election,” he said, adding such decisions will keep coming. “And one big decision will come in 2018,” he said. “Today, I appeared before the accountability court ... and I am satisfied because I am clean. I believe that God and the people of Pakistan are with me.”

Nawaz thanked the voters of NA-120 for ensuring the victory of his wife and party candidate Kulsoom Nawaz in the by-election. He pledged to make whatever sacrifices needed for the sake of the development of the country and well-being of its people. “I will not let my family’s problems turn into my country’s problems. I am thankful to party workers who have stood by me and my family,” he said, while assuring that he would continue to fight for the sake of masses.

Taking notice of the manhandling of a journalist during his appearance before the accountability court in the morning, Nawaz condemned the incident and asked State Minister for Interior Talal Chaudhry to investigate the matter.

Earlier in the day, an accountability court set October 2 to formally indict former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in all the three graft references filed against him and his family members by the NAB in compliance with the Supreme Court’s July 28 orders in the Panama Papers case. After appearing before the NAB court, the former prime minister held important consultative meetings with senior members of his party as well as coalition partner Maulana Fazlur Rehman. Matter relating to hearing of the accountability court came under discussion.

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