Shabbaz Sharif and Hamza.
ISLAMABAD: Leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif and his son, Hamza, who is the leader of the opposition in the Punjab Assembly, were indicted by an accountability court of Lahore in the Ramzan Sugar Mills case on Tuesday.
Both father and son pleaded not guilty to the charges framed against them, which involve the misuse of their authority and the illegal use of public funds.
National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor Waris Ali Janjua told the court that both Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders were indicted. He gave arguments seeking indictment.
Accountability Court Judge Najamul Hassan asked the NAB prosecutor what exactly the Ramzan Sugar Mills reference is, to which Janjua replied that public funds were used for a nullah (drain) for the mill, of which Hamza is a director.
The NAB claimed that the funds for the nullah ─ which come to about Rs200 million had had been released by Shahbaz Sharif as the chief minister of Punjab.
As Sharif began to tell the court that NAB had built a faulty case, the judge told him he could speak when it is his turn.
Sharif, however, continued: “God knows, in 10 years, I have saved [the country] billions of rupees. I had nothing to do with this nullah, no money was wrongfully used.”
The court subsequently indicted both, father and son, before moving onto hearing the Ashiyana Housing scam case, in which Sharif has already been indicted.
On Monday, a Ramzan Sugar Mills manager, Mohammad Mushtaq alias Chini, was taken into custody by the Federal Investigation Agency while he was going abroad. He is alleged to be the front man for a Sharif family member and had gone underground after Shahbaz was arrested.
Meanwhile, Jamiate Ulemae Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman met former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday and called for the opposition parties to take strict action against the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
He told reporters after the meeting that the NAB was being used by government against political opponents. “The NAB is a vindictive organization.”
Speaking about his meeting with Sharif, Rehman said he visited him to inquire after his health. Asked whether political situation also came under discussion, he said when two political leaders meet, politics naturally comes under discussion.
He said the one-point agenda of high inflation was discussed with Sharif.
He said the government was in the hands of incompetent people and one can only think of the situation that can arise.
Answering a question, the JUI-F chief said the current regime was a “fake government” run by a “fake prime minister.”
He said his party had already launched a protest movement gathering millions of people in its rallies but unfortunately the media has chosen to overlook.
He said he would soon meet Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Asif Ali Zardari and discuss different political options.
Rerman was the first leader, who met Sharif after the latter was bailed out for six weeks to get treatment of his multiple diseases which aggravated during his incarceration in the Kot Lakhpat Jail of Lahore.
He went to the prison after an accountability court of Islamabad convicted him in a reference on Dec.24 last year.
In a separate development, Shahbaz Sharif has proposed to Prime Minister Imran Khan six names, three each from Sindh and Balochistan, for selection of two of them as the members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to represent these provinces.
In a letter to the premier, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President proposed the names of Justice (retd) Noorul Haq Qureshi, lawyer Khalid Javed Khan and Abdur Rasool Memon for the Sindh seat. He recommended the names of Shah Muhammad Jatoi, Noor Muskanzai and Muhammad Rauf Ata for the Balochistan seat.
He acknowledged the premier’s move of withdrawing names sent to the parliamentary committee, adding that doing so without prior consultations with him was a violation of the constitution.
Sharif reiterated that Khan’s letter dated March 11 was a violation of the Constitution as it could not be regarded as “consultation under Article 213(2A).”
The decision paves the way for the country's anti-graft body to arrest the two, perhaps within hours.
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