Govt brands Sharifs 'architects of corruption'

Published: April 14, 2019
PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

ISLAMABAD: The government on Sunday launched a fresh tirade against the Sharif family, accusing them of introducing the contemporary methods of corruption in the country.

In tweets and news conferences, it maintained that the Sharif family introduced the Economic Reforms Act in 1992 and through a provision in that law transferred black money stashed abroad into their coffers using fake accounts.

To make this possible they hired the services of an “economic hitman” — an apparent reference to former finance minister Ishaq Dar.

Using Twitter, Prime Minister Imran Khan took a hit at opposition leaders accused of involvement in money laundering, saying that certain quarters had made “plunder a way of life”.

The premier posted a cryptic message, quoting French writer Frédéric Bastiat: “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorises it and a moral code that glorifies it.”

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Imran added that the truth of this saying was reflected clearly in the way money launderers were behaving when questioned about their actions.

Later, at a news conference, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry accused the Sharif family of being the architects of current money laundering practices in the country.

The government maintained that during former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s tenure, Dar became an “approver” against the Sharif family and confessed before a magistrate about his involvement in money laundering.

Between 1996 and 1998, the authorities noticed suspicious transactions made by the Hudaibiya Papers Mill. The company had a total value of Rs95 million but then foreign remittances worth Rs810 million were transferred to its accounts.

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The company was owned by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif’s father Mian Sharif with his family members as beneficiaries.

The government alleged that $26 million were transferred into the accounts of distant relatives of the Sharif family from unknown sources through telegraphic transfer (TT).

The family had no known source of income in the country except Shehbaz’s salary which he received when he was the chief minister.

The government accused Shehbaz of buying several expensive properties in posh areas of Islamabad and Lahore for his wife.

The assets owned by Shehbaz in the country were just “the tip of iceberg” and his real wealth was stashed abroad, it added.

PML-N response

PML-N Spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb retorted that the allegations were an attempt to distract attention from Finance Minister Asad Umar’s diplomatic failure in Washington, where his US counterpart Steven Mnuchin refused to meet him.

“[Prime Minister] Imran Khan’s problem is that he is not fit for the job and surrounded by an incompetent team,” she added.

“The charges of corruption haven’t been proved against the Sharif family. Instead of hurling allegations, the prime minister should present actual evidence.”

The PML-N spokesperson took a jibe at the ruling party for failing to keep its pre-election promises.

“The government is now answerable to the people about the 10 million jobs and five million houses it had promised to provide,” she said.

Aurangzeb held the government responsible for the economic problems of the country.

“They need to explain why the growth rate has reduced to half of what it was and why inflation has increased threefold.”

She also demanded an explanation for debt increasing by Rs16 billion every day and the hike in electricity and gas prices by 25% and 15% respectively.

The PML-N spokesperson accused the prime minister’s sister, Aleema Khan, of buying Benami properties and PTI heavyweight Jahangir Tareen laundering billions of rupees through gardeners and cooks.

“Imran Khan was involved in money laundering through 18 fake accounts to provide funds to the party and did not respond to the election commission’s questions about these activities.”

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