Pakistan's ousted premier Nawaz Sharif and his embattled family today heaved a sigh of relief when the Supreme Court refused to reopen another corruption case against them.
Pakistan’s ousted premier Nawaz Sharif and his embattled family today heaved a sigh of relief when the Supreme Court refused to reopen another corruption case against them. The three-member bench of Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel rejected an appeal by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against a 2014 decision of the Lahore High Court that quashed the case for lack of evidence. The NAB had recently filed the appeal to reopen the Rs 1.2 billion Hudaibya Paper Mills case, involving money laundering charges against the Sharif family. The case was launched in 2000 by former dictator Pervez Musharraf. The apex court bench – seeking new evidence – had asked the NAB not to “parrot” the Panama Papers judgement and rather articulate its own reasons to convince the bench why the reference originally filed against the Sharifs in the year 2000 should be resurrected.
“You have to satisfy the court on the reasons for the delay in filing the appeal,” Justice Alam had told NAB’s lawyer as the hearing began. The lawyer had told the court that there are holes in the high court’s decision and the appeal must be reopened for the sake of justice. But the NAB failed to convince the court why it took so long to challenge the high court verdict. The court after several days of hearing the case issued a short order and rejected the NAB’s appeal to reopen the case. Today’s decision is major relief for the Sharif family as it was feared that after his disqualification, his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif, who is the chief minister of Punjab province, could also face the similar fate if the case was reopened. The case was based on a confessional statement of Sharif’s confidante and current Finance Minister Ishaq Dar who on April 25, 2000 admitted playing role in laundering money to the tune of $14.86 million on behalf of the Sharifs through fictitious accounts.
According to the NAB documents, Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz, his father Mian Muhammad Sharif, brothers Shehbaz and Abbas Sharif, Abbas’s wife Sabiha, Sharif’s son Hussain and Shahbaz’s son Hamza had been accused of receiving the alleged “ill-gotten money” in the case. Dar later said that he was forced to record the statement while he was in custody after Sharif’s government was sent packing by former military ruler Musharraf. Sharif, 67, and some of his family members, including his two sons and a daughter are already facing corruption charges in the Panama Papers case relating to their ownership of posh properties in London. He resigned as prime minister in July after the Supreme Court disqualified him over undeclared income.