ISLAMABAD - Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday asked National Accountability Bureau [NAB] Chairman Javed Iqbal to prove the money laundering allegations against him within 24 hours or quit.

Speaking at a news conference here, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supremo alleged that NAB chief was involved in his character assassination and media trial.

Taking unmindfully a lead from an article published in an Urdu daily months ago, NAB chairman rushed to announce launching of probe against the embattled former prime minister over allegations that he laundered $4.9 billion to India.

But the move backfired as the media was quick to point out that the falsity of the allegations had already been proved two years ago when the issue arose in the wake of World Bank report.

Talking about this issue, Nawaz said, “The NAB chairman [Justice (r) Javed Iqbal ] has made it his mission to defame me. I have pointed towards the biased attitude of NAB several times.

“Chairman NAB’s news release (on May 8) confirmed my statements. The report of World Bank was made foundation of the case while distorting the facts.”

Sharif said if the NAB chief failed to provide evidence, he should resign and seek public apology.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi blasted the NAB chief for announcing to launch a probe over money laundering without even making an initial inquiry about the claims.

“This is pre-poll rigging. This is embarrassing for us all,” he told the National Assembly. “The NAB chairman should be summoned before parliament and [made to] reveal where he got this information from,” he added.

The World Bank has denied as ‘incorrect’ the media stories that cited a WB report alleging Nawaz Sharif laundered $4.9 billion to India.

The Bank’s Remittances and Migration Report is an effort by the WB to estimate migration and remittances numbers across the world, it said.

“The report does not include any mention of money laundering nor does it name any individuals,” it clarified.

Nawaz Sharif is already facing three corruption cases in the accountability court following the July 2017 Supreme Court’s verdict in the Panama Papers case that disqualified him as the premier. He has also been disqualified from holding public office for life.

To a question about ‘aliens’ Sharif said: “They are not visible. The real aliens have been present for the last 70 years and will now confront those present on the ground. But the people on ground will defeat the aliens [this time].”

Nawaz Sharif said a three-time prime minister had been accused of transferring $4.9 billion to India and committing money laundering. “The nature of the allegation is serious and shameful. Ignoring it means to risk the democratic system,” he said.

He said it was being alleged this amount damaged the national foreign exchange reserves and strengthened India’s economy. “Such allegations are unacceptable. The institution [NAB] established in the name of accountability has become a body of accusations against me,” he maintained.

The PML-N supreme leader said the NAB references filed against him [under Panama case judgment] were also based on media’s survey report.

“Many people were included in it [Panama Papers] but nobody focused on them. When political opponents approached Supreme Court, the petition was dismissed. What happened later that the same plea became significant,” he asked.

Nawaz Sharif affirmed that he will not apologise or ask for mercy if jailed. “Conspiracies are being hatched against me. They are planning to convict me and send me to jail,” he said.

The ex-PM said Prime Minister Abbasi’s statement in the National Assembly about NAB chairman was a good omen. He claimed NAB was exceeding its powers in many affairs and added that former military ruler Pervez Musharraf had constituted the anti-graft body for his own designs.

“We have to decide whether we should act in accordance with the laws made by dictatorship or democratic governments,” he said.

On the inclusion of South Punjab Province Front into Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, Nawaz Sharif said that no one knew leaders of the so-called Front. He said the whole nation stood by him while some opportunists were standing with PTI leader Imran Khan.

The former PM warned that Imran was not a trustworthy politician. “He (Imran Khan) has double standards. He is not dependable,” he said.

Sharif said the people in party were being asked to join the PTI or face NAB cases. “More than 90 percent of the NAB cases revolve around us. I have made 70 appearances in the [accountability] court. The Joint Investigation Team failed to prove anything against me.”

About the alliance between PTI and the Pakistan People’s Party, Nawaz Sharif said the “nexus goes back to (Pakistan Awami Tehrik chief) Tahirul Qadri’s All Parties Conference.”

“Imran Khan voted in favour of the arrow (PPP’s electoral symbol). Ask him did he vote for them or not,” he remarked.

 

 

Prove money laundering or quit, Nawaz asks NAB chief

 

SHAFQAT ALI