ISLAMABAD - Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar has said that Shehbaz Sharif would not dare sue him and the Daily Mail.

Addressing a news conference here on Sunday, he said that former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif claimed to have filed a case in a British court against the Daily Mail and against him for publishing a story that (according to Shehbaz) tarnished his image. However, he just lodged a complaint against the newspaper for publishing a story against him, the special assistant said.

Akbar said Shehbaz Sharif should have gone to British courts as claimed by him. He said that the journalist who published the story in Daily Mail still stands by it.

The special assistant again challenged the PML-N leadership to take him to a London court, so that he could prove them guilty in mere two months as in Pakistan such cases took years.

“If Shehbaz Sharif filed a suit only against the Daily Mail and left him (Shahzad) out, then he would join the case as a third-party to prove his family’s money laundering through telegraphic transfers,” he added.

Shahzad said he had substantial evidence against Shehbaz’s son-in-law Ali Imran, who had transferred considerable amount from the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) funds.

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Shahzad Akbar reiterated his stance that Shehbaz Sharif would not dare sue him and the Daily Mail. “I feel left out after Shehbaz lodges a mere complaint to the Daily Mail instead of filing a lawsuit against me in a court of London,” Shahzad said while accusing the PML-N’s leader of trying to avoid legal proceedings.

He said he was there to clarify the impression created by some reporters in their stories published in respective newspapers. He cited one news item headlined: ‘Shehbaz Sharif sues Daily Mail over politically motivated story’.

Shahzad quoted the press release issued by Carter-Ruck, the legal firm hired by Shehbaz Sharif, as stating: “The PML-N president has issued a formal legal complaint against the Mail on Sunday and Mail Online, and its journalist David Rose, about an article published on Sunday, 14 July 2019.”

He said in his four-page complaint to the British newspaper, Shehbaz did not deny any allegation levelled against him by the Daily Mail’s reporter. He only raised questions over the content of the story instead of giving any counter claim.

Shehbaz, he said, complained to the newspaper that his version was not taken instead of denying the facts mentioned in the story. He might have forgotten that the reporter had clearly mentioned that he had approached the personal secretaries of Shehbaz to get his version, he added.

He said soon after filing of the complaint by Shehbaz Sharif, in which he claimed that he was not present in Pakistan at the time of 2005 earthquake, David Rose, in a tweet, responded that the alleged theft in the earthquake funds had occurred in 2009 and 2011.

After the revelation of Sharif family’s embezzlement in the funds provided by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) for the victims of 2005 earthquake, Shahzad said the PML-N leadership had promised to file a libel suit against him (Shahzad) and the PTI government in London, but they had failed to do so as yet.

The special assistant again challenged the PML-N leadership to take him to a London court, so that he could prove them guilty in mere two months as in Pakistan such cases took years.

Former ERRA director Naveed Ikram, who had struck a plea bargain with the National Accountability Bureau, was favoured by Shehbaz Sharif several times by appointing him on high posts for illegally transferring funds to his son-in-law’s bank accounts, he added.

The special assistant claimed that David Rose had only revealed five percent of the evidences of the Sharif family’s corruption in earthquake fund while the rest 95 percent were still held by him (Shahzad).

To a query, he said the high-powered commission, formed by Prime Minister Imran Khan to probe corruption during the two previous governments, had taken up the matters regarding Independent Power Plants and other issues.

The PTI leadership, he vowed, would not back out from pursuing the corruption cases. The plea bargain was only way out for the looters and plunderers, which was also subject to the court orders, he added.

Replying to another question, he said the special investigation commission has started its work and staff, office and funds have also been allocated for that. He said that according to the commission’s ToRs, the commission will complete its report in six months. He said two to three meetings of the commission have been held but it did not submit any interim report so far.

Replying to a question, the special assistant said the prime minister has taken serious notice about Irfan Siddiqui who was presented in handcuffs in court yesterday. He said that inquiry is underway against those who had handcuffed Siddiqui.

He said that the bail has been granted to Siddiqui on Sunday which is unusual.