Pakistan’s anti-graft body ordered to record ex-PM Nawaz Sharif’s statement by Nov 30 in Toshakhana corruption case

Islamabad, November 20

An accountability court here on Monday ordered Pakistan’s anti-graft body to record former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s statement by November 30 in the Toshakhana corruption case.

Judge Muhammad Bashir of the accountability court in Islamabad heard the Toshakhana corruption case against the 73-year-old Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo who returned to Pakistan on October 21 after about four years of self-imposed exile in London.

Sharif’s lawyer, Qazi Misbah, urged the court to issue directions to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on recording the three-time prime minister’s statements in the case.

“A supplementary reference needs to be filed … a reference was filed in the absence of Nawaz,” he was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper. “We want the NAB to record Nawaz’s position,” he added.

The NAB prosecutor sought time to go through the petition. However, Judge Bashir ordered the accountability bureau to record Sharif’s statements in the case by November 30 and adjourned the proceedings till then.

“What is the problem? Call Nawaz Sharif and record his statement,” Judge Bashir was quoted as saying.

In June 2020, an accountability court issued non-bailable arrest warrants against Sharif when he was in London and, in September, declared him a proclaimed offender in the Toshakhana vehicles case.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari, 68, and ex-prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, 71, are also accused in the same case.

In the case, the NAB accused Sharif and Zardari of illegally retaining expensive vehicles gifted to them by various foreign countries and dignitaries instead of depositing them in the Toshakhana, the state depository.

According to the country’s top anti-corruption body, Zardari and Sharif got cars in 2008 by paying just 15 per cent of their price and Gilani, during his tenure as prime minister, facilitated the two in retaining the vehicles.

According to the rules, gifts given to officials should be deposited in the Toshakhana, established in 1974. Officials can, however, keep the gifts by paying a certain percentage of the price assessed by the Toshakhana evaluation committee.

Last month, ahead of Sharif’s homecoming after an exile of four years, the accountability court granted the former premier bail and also suspended the perpetual arrest warrants after he surrendered before the court. The court confirmed his bail against surety bonds of Rs 1 million.

Earlier this month, the court ordered authorities to release all properties and assets seized from Sharif in 2020 during a hearing of the Toshakhana case.

The former premier is all set to lead the PML-N during the general elections, which are scheduled to be held on February 8. Earlier this month, he directed his party leaders to begin their preparations for the national elections.

#Nawaz Sharif #Pakistan

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