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LAHORE: While underscoring the need for enhancing professional capabilities of judges and prosecutors in dealing with financial crime cases, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior Mirza Shahzad Akbar has called upon the chief justice of Pakistan and CJ of the Lahore High Court (LHC) to conduct daily hearings of cases against the Sharif family.

“When the government or any other independent institute submits a challan before court, the onus to proceed with the case lies with the respective court and it is the responsibility of courts to conduct hearing of public interest cases like that of the Sharif family on daily basis because the nation is desperate to known what would be the conclusion of mega corruption cases (against the Sharifs),” he said while addressing a press conference at 90-Shahra-e-Quaid-e-Azam, here on Friday.

The premier’s aide was updating the media regarding the alleged Rs 16 billion money laundering committed by PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza through the bank accounts of their low wage employees.

“If the Sharif family agrees, the government would have no objection to live telecast of the hearings,” he said, adding that the government is ready to provide any kind of “assistance” for the administration of justice.

He said the nation wants to know whether there is anything solid in the cases or not.

“If not, the matter should be dismissed once for all,” Akbar said and disclosed that international institutions such as Financial Action Task Force (FATF) repeatedly raised questions over seriousness of the Pakistani government in checking, controlling and putting to logical conclusions of money laundering cases.

To a query, the SAPM said the Pakistani technical team would seek explanation from the FATF’s technical team in its next meeting how former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who went to the United Kingdome on medical grounds, is staying in London despite expiry of his passport and being a convict of money laundering charges.

When asked about the exact status of cases against Nawaz Sharif, Suleman Shehbaz, Ali Imran and Ishaq Dar, the PM advisor said the Paksitan government has no mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) with the Britain under which wanted people are extradited.

He said that for the first time in history, the UK government signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Pakistani government in 2019 under which former finance minister was expected to be extradited.

“Meanwhile, Ishaq Dar applied for asylum,” he said citing his own sources. He said the UK government doesn’t disclose when someone applies for asylum.

According to Shahzad, all the legal requirements had been fulfilled regarding the extradition of Salman Shahbaz and Ali Imran. He said he recently met UK’s Permanent Home Secretary in Pakistan and it is likely the MoU would be signed shortly.

“However, the case of Nawaz Sharif is different from others as he is a convict,” he added.

The SAPM alleged that Nawaz went to London on medical grounds but he never received any medical treatment there. He said the Pakistan government has categorically informed the former PM that his visa could not be renewed as he was declared PO by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and an accountability court.

“You (Nawaz) are wanted to Pakistan and whenever you want to come back, we will offer a one-time visa, which will be valid for coming back to the country,” he said, adding that Kot Lakhpat Jail was waiting his return. “We are actively pursuing Nawaz’s case.”

When asked why the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had not listed bankers who allegedly helped the Sharif family in laundering money, the SAPM said it was a “technical move” because more witnesses would further delay the case. He said the government was contemplating whether to file a separate FIR against the bankers or ask the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to take strict administrative actions against them.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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