- British publication in its clarification says the Pakistani premier was never accused by the NAB of any wrongdoing in relation to British public money or DFID grant aid
British publication Daily Mail on Thursday apologised to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for an “error” in an article it published on July 4, 2019, in which it had accused the premier of “stealing British foreign aid money”.
In a clarification published on its website on Thursday, the British publication said: “In an article concerning Mr Shahbaz Sharif entitled ‘Did the family of Pakistani politician who has become the poster boy for British overseas aid STEAL funds meant for earthquake victims’ published on 14 July 2019 we reported on an investigation by Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau into Mr Sharif and suggested that the money under investigation included a not insubstantial sum of British public money that had been paid to the Punjab province in DFID grant aid.”
It said that the premier “has never been accused by the National Accountability Bureau of any wrongdoing in relation to British public money or DFID grant aid”.
“We are pleased to make this clear and apologise to Mr Sharif for this error,” Daily Mail added.
The news story, written by journalist David Rose, has now been removed from its website and other platforms.
In his article, Rose claimed that Shehbaz had embezzled funds provided by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) for the rehabilitation of the 2005 earthquake while he was chief minister of Punjab.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) quickly refuted the story and insisted that it was published “on the behest of PTI Chairman Imran Khan”.
The DFID also rejected the claims, saying that the body’s “robust systems protected UK taxpayers from fraud”.
In January 2020, PM Shehbaz filed a defamation suit against the “grotesque allegation” claiming a retraction, damages, and an apology.
In March this year, the newspaper submitted a 50-page response to Shehbaz’s defamation suit.
'Vindication' for PM Shehbaz
Following the Daily Mail’s apology, Prime Minister Shehbaz tweeted, “I bow my head in humility before Allah (SWT) for my vindication.”
Taking to Twitter, the premier said, "for three long years, Imran Khan and his “minions” went to any limit to assassinate his character. In their smear campaign, they didn’t bother if their actions brought a bad name to Pakistan and damaged its relations with a friendly country.
“They mocked and ridiculed me and my family through their baseless allegations but I had my unwavering faith in Allah, for only He could expose their brazen lies,” he added.
The prime minister reiterated his belief that disinformation and fake news had limited shelf life and truth being the ultimate victor. “After NCA, the Daily Mail story has proven it,” he remarked.