Pakistan SC clears Imran Khan, refuses to reopen case against Sharif family

An adverse ruling in both cases would have rendered Imran Khan, head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, and PML-N leader Shehbaz Sharif ineligible for next year’s general election.
File photo of Pakistani opposition leader Imran Khan speaking to reporters in Karachi on December 15, 2017.(AP)
File photo of Pakistani opposition leader Imran Khan speaking to reporters in Karachi on December 15, 2017.(AP)
Updated on Dec 15, 2017 10:20 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Islamabad | ByImtiaz Ahmad, Islamabad

Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Friday rejected a petition seeking the disqualification of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan as an MP for not declaring his assets, but disqualified his close aide Jahangir Tareen for life.

In a separate case, the apex court rejected an appeal by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the anti-corruption watchdog, to reopen a Rs 1.2-billion money laundering case against former premier Nawaz Sharif and members of his family.

An adverse ruling in both cases would have rendered Khan, head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, and Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif ineligible for next year’s general election. Shehbaz Sharif is set to be the PML-N’s prime ministerial candidate following the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif for dishonesty in July.

“The Bani Gala property is Imran Khan’s. He bought the land for his family,” Chief Justice Saqib Nisar said, referring to Khan’s sprawling house on the outskirts of Islamabad that had been at the centre of allegations against him.

Nisar said Khan was not liable to disclose the existence of Niazi Services Ltd, an offshore company, in his 2013 nomination papers as he wasn’t a shareholder. He said Khan had submitted all the information sought from him and only a small amount of the money trail sent by his ex-wife Jemima was unaccounted for.

The bench found Tareen dishonest under provisions of the Constitution and The Representation of the People Act, and said the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan should have taken action against him for insider trading.

Tehreek-e-Insaf spokesman Fahad Chaudhry told reporters outside the court that Tareen was disqualified on “technical grounds” in connection with his home in the UK. He said the party would appeal against the disqualification.

The court referred a case related to the foreign funding of Khan’s party to the Election Commission, saying it has the right to look into the foreign funds of any party.

PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi had filed the petition seeking Khan’s disqualification, saying he had not properly declared his assets to the Election Commission.

A separate bench of the Supreme Court rejected the appeal to reopen the graft case against the Sharif family after the NAB was unable to satisfy the court.

The NAB had filed the appeal against a 2014 decision by the Lahore high court to close the case, popularly known as the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case. Besides Nawaz Sharif, the other accused in the case were his children Hussain Nawaz and Maryam Nawaz, as well as Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shahbaz..

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