NAB exonerates Nawaz Sharif in Toshakhana reference

PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif. — AFP/File
PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif Wednesday received a clean chit from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the Toshakhana vehicle reference.

The development comes after an accountability court in Islamabad had directed the anti-graft body to include the PML-N leader in the investigation pertaining to the case and present a report subsequently.

In its report submitted to the court, NAB proposed acquitting the former three-time prime minister.

The court may acquit Nawaz from the Toshakhana reference, the watchdog stated in its report submitted before the court today, highlighting that the car in question was not a part of the Toshakhana at the time of purchase by the former prime minister.

According to the anti-corruption body’s findings, the Saudi government gifted a car to then-prime minister Nawaz in 1997 which he deposited in Toshakhana.

Later in 2008, the report mentioned, then-premier Yusuf Raza Gilani offered the PML-N supremo to buy the same car.

Therefore, Nawaz bought the car not from the Toshakhana, but from the federal transport pool, the report maintained, adding that the vehicle was not purchased using a fake bank account.

The development comes a month after NAB sought respite from the graft court in Islamabad for submission of the report in the Toshakhana case against President Asif Ali Zardari, former premiers Nawaz and Gilani, and others.

During its previous hearing on March 19, conducted by accountability court Judge Nasir Javed Rana, NAB prosecutor Azhar Maqbool said the body included ex-prime minister Nawaz in the probe after his request.

However, he added, NAB’s investigating officers are not available at the time of the hearing. He, therefore, requested the court to allow time for submission of the report and give arguments in the next hearing.

Maqbool said that the report will be submitted in light of the investigation and after determining whether the case can be prosecuted or not.

Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari’s lawyer Farooq H Naek argued that his client, who was now serving as the head of state, had received immunity following his election as the president.

Therefore, the case against him cannot be pursued.

It should be noted that NAB had filed a reference with the accountability court against the former heads of state for not depositing luxury vehicles and valuable gifts received from foreign leaders in the treasury.

The anti-graft body’s sources said that Zardari had paid only 15% of the total cost of the vehicles received as gifts through fake accounts.

The president, the sources added, had received expensive cars as gifts from Libya and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as the head of state, but did not deposit them in the Toshakhana.

Both Nawaz and Gilani, too, had also received cars as gifts from foreign leaders as prime ministers and used them themselves instead of depositing them in the treasury.

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