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Pakistan anti-graft body to file cases against Nawaz Sharif, children

The National Accountability Bureau said it will use material gathered by the Joint Investigation Team to file the cases against former premier Nawaz Sharif and his three children.

world Updated: Jul 31, 2017 23:00 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
File photo of Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif (left) talking with his elder brother, former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, during a ceremony at the Prime Minister's Office in Islamabad in June 2013.
File photo of Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif (left) talking with his elder brother, former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, during a ceremony at the Prime Minister's Office in Islamabad in June 2013. (Reuters)

Pakistan’s anti-graft watchdog announced on Monday it will file criminal corruption cases against former premier Nawaz Sharif and his children even as PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi submitted papers in Parliament to be elected as the placeholder prime minister.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) said four cases will be filed against Sharif, his sons Hussain and Hassan, daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Muhammad Safdar in anti-corruption courts in Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

Separate cases will also be filed against former finance minister Ishaq Dar, a close aide of Sharif.

Sharif was ousted by the top court on Friday for not being honest after an investigative panel concluded he had not declared salary due to him from his son’s UAE-based firm. The probe was conducted after the Panama Papers leaks revealed Sharif’s three children owned offshore assets.

The court had also directed the NAB to file criminal cases against Sharif and his family within six weeks.

A statement issued by the NAB said its executive board had decided to file the four cases in line with the court’s judgement. The cases will be prepared on the basis of “material collected and referred by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) in its report and some other material” available with Federal Investigation Agency and NAB.

According to the NAB law, Sharif and his children can be arrested at any time on the orders of NAB chairman. They could face at least seven years in prison if convicted in the corruption cases.

Meanwhile, the Parliament will elect a new leader of the House on Tuesday to replace Sharif.

Pakistan's premier-designate Shahid Khaqan Abbasi (centre) leaves with his aides after meeting politicians in Parliament in Islamabad on July 31, 2017. Pakistan's Parliament will meet on Tuesday to elect a new prime minister after the disqualification of three-term premier Nawaz Sharif. (AP)

PML-N leader Abbasi, a leading businessman and founder of the airblue private airline, filed his nomination papers in the Parliament Secretariat. He will hold the post of premier till Sharif’s brother, Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif, can take over.

Speaking to the media, Abbasi said the PML-N will win the election of the prime minister with a majority and then decide on members of the new cabinet.

“The policies which continued till 12:30 pm on Friday will persist during my premiership,” Abbasi said, referring to the Supreme Court’s verdict which disqualified Sharif.

“I hope that God will help me in furthering Nawaz Sharif’s policies,” he added.

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Sharif had announced on Saturday that his younger brother would be his successor. Since it will take about two months for Shehbaz to be elected to the National Assembly or lower house of Parliament, Sharif nominated Abbasi as the interim prime minister.

The PML-N has a majority with 188 seats in the 342-member Parliament and is expected to get additional votes from its allies to take the total to 214. The party should be able to swiftly install its choice, barring any defections from its own ranks.