By Saeed Qureshi
Of late, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has directed the Interior Ministry to place names of Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, other seven account holders and 13 beneficiaries on the Exit Control List. The charges against them are that they all are involved in transferring Rs35 billions to 29 fake bank accounts.
The verdict with dire sentences with regard to the mega financial corruption cases instituted by NAB against the president of the political party PMNL as well as the former prime minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law Captain Muhammad Safdar have already been announced.
The lone judges of Accountability Court-I Muhammad Bashir, under directive from supreme court, awarded 11-years rigorous imprisonment to Nawaz with £8 million fine. His daughter Maryam Nawaz has been awarded eight-year imprisonment with £2 million fine. Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law Captain (Retd) Muhammad Safdar was handed down two-year rigorous imprisonment.
All these rigorous jail terms have been awarded to them on manipulation of funds and stacking those overseas. The case is known “Avenfield Apartments Corruption Reference” and has been lingering on for quite some time. However, Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Captain Safdar have the legal option to file their appeals against this judgment in the high court. They have decided to challenge the Avenfield verdict against them in the Islamabad High Court on Monday.
The Court also disqualified all the three accused from holding any public office for 10 years or availing themselves of bank loans. Declaring their two sons Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz, absconders the judge declared issuance of Non-bailable perpetual warrants for their arrest. Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz who are in London would be arrested at the airport upon their return to Pakistan.
Hopefully, the legal and prompt actions and verdicts about these mega corruption cases would serve as the first step for the Accountability Courts to move against other similar felons whose number should be running in hundreds if not in thousands. If the inquiry and punishment stop at the Nawaz Sharif Family and Asif Ali Zardari and his sister, then an observer or a layman would have the genuine impression that it was a witch-hunt against these families for political or personal reasons. It could be a decision that might enormously benefit the rival political contenders in the general elections to be held on July 25 instant.
Third in the row could be Imran Khan. It may be imagined that the PTI (Pakistan Tehrik- e- Insaf) chief Imran Khan may also be interrogated either by FIA or NAB to Justify as to how he made a huge property in Bani-Gala near Islamabad the capitol of Pakistan. According to the press reports, Khan owns a 300 kanal mansion in Bani Gala, Islamabad worth ₨750 million (US$7.1 million). He has a house in Zaman Park, Lahore worth ₨29 million (US$270,000). Khan has also been an investor, investing more than ₨. 40 million (US$380,000) in various businesses. He owns furniture of ₨0.6 million (US$5,700) and four goats of ₨0.2 million (US$1,900). However, he has no vehicle registered in his name.
It is interesting to observe that the three mainstream parties are contesting and competing in the general lections scheduled for July 25 this year which means hence in two weeks’ time.
If Imran Khan is left without a Suo Moto action either by NAB and the Supreme Court under the inimitable and bold chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar, then there can be strong chances that he might fair very well in the elections and could be able to form the government at the center. The other possibility is that the nominees, (whosever they might be) of both PPP and PMNL may have tough contest from the PTI. The public meeting in Abbottabad addressed by Imran Khan was huge and unprecedented by virtue of its decorum and presence of the audience.
One may imagine that the arrest and legal action against the heads of both the leading parties namely Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, as a timely ploy to deter these leaders from being re-elected and assume the presidency of their respective parties as well becoming the prime minister of Pakistan.
The judges of NAB (National Accountability Bureau) are human beings and not mistake-free angels. While handing out verdicts they can be swayed by their likes and dislikes, choice for the favorites and rejection of the non-favorites This kind of attitude has been profusely demonstrated in sentencing Mian Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law captain to a prolonged jail terms which in his case is 11 years, his daughter 7 years and his son in law captain (Retd) Muhammad Safdar for one year. Besides Nawaz Sharif has been fined 8 million pounds and his daughter 2 million pounds.
The general impression of the observers and the politicians from other political parties is that this accountability action might be beneficial to PMLN to win more votes and thus assail in power arena once again. These views were expressed by no less political stalwarts as Asif Ali Zardari and PTI chief Imran Khan.
It is being speculated( right or wrong) in a section of the press that Mian Saqib Nisar the Chief Justice of Pakistan, in alliance with Pakistan's military establishment, gave stern verdicts against Pakistan Muslim League (N), as well as Nawaz Sharif and his government which was ousted in July 2017.
Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz would be coming back to Pakistan within 10 days (Monday, July 9)) in order for what they have announced, to challenge the verdict of the NAB. The case would move to the Supreme Court in case of appeals by the defendants.
Nawaz Sharif remained the prime minister three times. The last term was from June5, 2013 to July28, 2017.He relinquished his post after his disqualification in Panama Papers’ case decision in July 2017. He was succeeded by one of his party members Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on 1 August 2017 who served as his successor until 31 May 2018. The caretaker prime minister is Nasirul Mulk( independent) who will hold the office till an elected prime minister replaces him
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