Staff Reporter Lahore
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday hit back at the government for “spewing lies” against him and his family in the wake of a recent UK court verdict, saying their actions were only bringing disrepute to the country.
The Westminster Magistrates Court’s decision was announced earlier this month and released on Monday on a report of the UK National Crime Agency that said it had stopped a probe into suspicious bank transactions involving Suleman Shehbaz and others.
Addressing a press conference in Lahore, Shehbaz said that after the NCA’s decision “they (government) have been burned and inflamed in the last three days as the last spurt of the last coal in a fire in winter.”
The PML-N president said that the National Accountability Bureau and Federal Investigation Agency had levelled various accusations against him and his family members but could not prove even an ounce of corruption by him or his brother, Nawaz Sharif. Thus, Shehbaz said, the NCA had been approached regarding himself and his children.
Reading from the NCA’s documents submitted at the start of the investigation, Shehbaz said the NCA had received a letter from the Asset Recovery Unit — instead of the investigation agency making a request itself.
Reading further, he said the documents mentioned NAB Lahore DG Shahzad Saleem meeting the NCA operations manager and indicating that NAB would be “happy to assist in any subsequent investigation”.
“This tells [that] by then the NCA didn’t even think of [any] investigation.” Shehbaz said this was “proof that government ministers have been leading the nation astray in the last 48 hours that they didn’t approach the NCA but were approached by it”.
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior and Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar had said a day earlier that reports of the ARU or NAB initiating the investigation were “incorrect” and they were in fact contacted by the NCA for details of criminal inquiries and convictions against the individuals being investigated.
The PML-N president also pushed back against the claims by ministers that the UK court verdict did not mention his name and was not related to him, saying that his name was mentioned in a number of relevant documents.
Shehbaz also responded to claims that he had not been acquitted of money laundering charges, asking that if the original charges on him were of corruption to benefit his children then “my children are acquitted but I am not? wow.”
He also said that according to the prime minister, he possessed offshore accounts. “The NCA is the world’s most formidable crimes agency and they have recovered millions and millions of pounds from every corner of the world.
They are not my relatives that they leave me alone so if my money was deposited in offshore accounts then the NCA would’ve found out in a second,” Shehbaz said.
The PML-N president also referred to a verdict of the Lahore High Court’s full bench on his post-arrest bail petition in which it had observed that he faced no allegation of receiving kickbacks or having ill-gotten money while the chief justice had observed him to be a “good guy” in the Ashiyana Housing Scheme scam.
Referring to the closure of the NCA investigation, he said the agency must have looked at everything before coming to a decision. He said the moment was one of reflection for the legal institutions of the country.
“It was not just a matter of my disrepute […] the country’s repute was also damaged [in the process],” he said, questioning whether cases of the premier’s sister, Aleema Khan, and others were sent to the NCA.
“What goes around comes around. The time for rule of law and justice is approaching.”
“Hang my body like Oliver Cromwell if an ounce of corruption is proved against me after my death,” Shehbaz said.
Responding to a question, Shehbaz said the nation should pursue a defamation case against the prime minister, NAB, FIA and the ARU for sending piles that achieved nothing except wasting the nation’s time.
“If you had been focused on serving the nation then there would not have been so much inflation, education would have been common […] you only had one agenda, how to drive the Sharif family into a corner,” Shehbaz said.
Shehbaz claimed that the British government itself stated that they found no evidence of corruption against him and he added that the NCA report was proof of his innocence.
Shehbaz asked if he were corrupt would the NCA agree to let him go after its inquiry. The PML-N president said the prime minister was “deceiving the nation” regarding the Sharif family, adding that Imran Khan would send him to jail immediately if he could have his way.
He further claimed that the prime minister brings him up in meetings with everyone. The PML-N chief took a jibe at the PM, saying Imran even dreams about Shehbaz Sharif.