NAB to move top court against Shehbaz Sharif's bail

Meeting on Wednesday to decide placing PML-N president’s name on ECL

Our Correspondent May 11, 2021


The National Accountability Bureau on Tuesday decided to approach the Supreme Court to challenge the Lahore High Court's decision to grant bail to PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif.

Separately, a meeting has been called on Wednesday (today) to discuss placing Shehbaz's name on the Exit Control List (ECL).

On April 22, a referee bench of the LHC ruled in favour of granting bail to the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly in an assets beyond means and money laundering case, disagreeing with Justice Asjad Javed Ghural’s dissenting note to the decision of Justice Sardar Muhammad Sarfraz Dogar.

A statement issued by NAB read that the anti-graft body’s prosecution team had initiated to prepare an appeal, as per law, keeping in view the “over-sighted or ignored facts” by the three-member bench presented in a 'Corruption Reference No. (22/2020) filed against the accused' in Lahore's accountability court.

Read more: Govt to appeal against removal of Shehbaz Sharif's name from blacklist

"NAB has clarified that the bureau is a national institution which performs its duties under lawful parameters purely in the good faith and interest of the nation and the country, as well, by setting aside any kind of pressure and pressings," it added.

The communique further stated that NAB Chairman Justice Javed Iqbal had issued clear instructions that every inquiry or investigation should be concluded within a designated time period and references be filed in accountability courts based on solid evidence so that corrupt elements could be penalised and punished as per law.

A meeting will be held on Wednesday, attended by the interior minister, the law minister and the PM's adviser on accountability and interior, to mull placing the PML-N president's name on the ECL.

Shehbaz's name is already on the provincial national identification list (PNIL).

NAB Lahore has written a letter to its headquarters in Islamabad, seeking the placement of the PML-N president’s name on the ECL.

Earlier on May 8, the PML-N leader was barred from flying from the Lahore airport to the UK via Qatar in the early hours of the day by the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA), hours after the LHC granted him permission to travel abroad once for medical treatment.

The opposition leader in the National Assembly reached the airport along with other party leaders but he was “offloaded” before the Doha-bound flight's departure despite being issued a boarding pass.

FIA officials stopped Shehbaz at the immigration counter, telling him that his name was on the PNIL and he could not leave the country until the system was updated.

On Monday, the federal government announced that it had decided to hold fresh investigations into the Hudabiya Paper Mills case – a corruption case registered against Sharif and his family during Gen Pervez Musharraf’s rule and closed on the order of the Supreme Court in 2017.

“The Hudabiya case is the most significant way to unravel the corruption of Sharif family. In this case Nawaz Sharif and [PML-N President] Shehbaz Sharif are the main accused,” Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry wrote on Twitter.

“The manner adopted in laundering money through Hudabiya [Paper Mills] was later replicated [by the Sharifs] in other cases as well. That is why it is vital to take this case to its logical conclusion,” he added.

According to the minister, this decision was made during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s meeting with his legal team.

Addressing a news conference in Islamabad on Tuesday, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said nothing would come out of the Hudabiya Paper Mills case as it had already been quashed by the apex court.

She also hit out at the information minister for launching yet another attack on SC's Justice Qazi Faez Isa as he was the judge who had decided the Hudabiya Paper Mills case.

“There has been three attacks on the judiciary this week by this government – two on the LHC and now on the SC,” she maintained.

NAB had filed the Hudabiya Paper Mills reference in the year 2000 accusing the entire Sharif family of misappropriating Rs1.24 billion – an amount which it claimed was “unexplainable and disproportionate” to their known sources of income.

The LHC, however, quashed the reference in 2014 and NAB did not make any attempt to challenge the court verdict in the Supreme Court.

However, in September 2017, NAB finally decided to challenge the three-year-old LHC judgment in the Supreme Court, which on December 15, 2017 rejected the appeal. NAB filed a review petition against the December 15 order which the same three-judge bench threw out on October 30, 2018.