Former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Thursday (Nov 15) first time answered most of the 151 questions of the court under Section 342 of Criminal Procedure Code in the Al-Azizia reference. As the hearing went underway, Nawaz denied transactions and links with Qatari Prince Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber Al-Thani’s letters which were presented from Sharif family as evidence in the Supreme Court during proceedings of the Panama case.
The Accountability Court-II Judge, Muhammad Arshad Malik, resumed the hearing of Al-Azizia corruption reference against the former prime minister on Thursday.
During the hearing, Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik asked about the ‘Correlation between the Qatari prince and the joint investigation team (JIT) constituted in the Panama Papers case’, Nawaz replied: “I had never participated in any transaction with Prince Hamad bin Jassim Al-Thani; for that matter, any transaction which is mentioned in the worksheet and related paper.”
Responding to a question he said, “My late father arranged and provided sufficient amounts for the day-to-day living of all my family members; subsequently, he also raised funds from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to establish the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and to run and operate his business during his lifetime through my elder son, namely Hussain Nawaz Sharif,” he said.
“Following the military coup on October 12, 1999, I was firstly confined and thereafter exiled from Pakistan on December 10, 2000…. (A)s regards the freezing of assets and businesses in Pakistan, the correct position is that subsequent to the military coup… the entire record of the businesses of the Sharif Group, which were being run by my late father Mian Mohammad Sharif since 1937, was illegally removed by various agencies and since then has never been returned to the family,” he said.
“In this respect a report was also lodged with the local police station but no action was taken. Subsequently, I was exiled from Pakistan and the NAB [National Accountability Bureau] had illegally and forcibly taken over the residential houses belonging to my parents along with a large number of shares of various companies belonging to my other family members.” “As regards the remittances from the HME, I have never denied the receipt of the said remittances, rather I openly declared the same throughout my tax record.”
“Judge Sahib, this not only happened to us in 1999 but always. It is a painful story of our family”. The former premier said, “In 1972, Pakistan’s biggest steel mill Ittefaq Foundry was nationalised and nobody asked if we even had the money to eat. I was not even a politician back in 1972 and entered politics in the 1980s.” He further said: “The JIT’s Volume X is mere investigative report and not an acceptable evidence. I am not a witness to any document submitted by the JIT other than my tax records. I had provided the JIT with my tax records,” he added.
Nawaz continued, “Mutual Legal Assistance was presented as evidence against me. The MLA from Saudi Arabia did not get a response while the response from the United Arab Emirates was factually incorrect.” Answering a question, the former PM also expressed reservations about the statement of the JIT head Wajid Zia.
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17 November, 2019