ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar on Sunday reiterated his stance that PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif would not dare to sue him and the Daily Mail as was evident from filing a complaint with the newspaper over a story exposing his family’s alleged embezzlement in foreign aid given by the United Kingdom for 2005 earthquake victims.
“I feels left out after Shehbaz Sharif 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.
Addressing a press conference here, 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 Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (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 Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (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.
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 got transferred huge amount from the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) funds.
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 per cent of the evidences of the Sharif family’s corruption in earthquake fund while the rest 95 per cent 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.