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Corruption references against me are punishment for treason case against Musharraf, Nawaz tells court

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Islamabad, May 23: Beleaguered PML-N politician Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday, during his third accountability court hearing in as many days, claimed that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) references against him are byproducts of him filing a high treason case against former military dictator Pervez Musharraf.

Nawaz and his family members are facing three references pertaining to the Avenfield properties, the Al-Azizia Steel mills and Flagship Investment Co filed by the NAB under the directives of the Supreme Court in its July 28, 2017 Panama Papers judgement.

The PML-N supremo has been asked to record his final statement in the Avenfield reference under Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code and to produce, on record, anything contradicting the statements of the 19 prosecution witnesses in the case.

When asked today why the Avenfield reference had been filed against him, Nawaz said that the references as well as the sit-ins against his government were reciprocal punishment for him taking legal action against Musharraf despite being warned not to do so.

Nawaz claimed that the head of an intelligence agency had told him to “resign or go on a long leave”, adding that such threats by a subordinate to the head of the state are not issued even in third world countries.

He hinted that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehrik were both in on the ‘conspiracy’ against him. “Before the filing of the treason case I had met Imran Khan and he never demanded my resignation. But surprisingly after Musharraf was booked, he met Tahirul Qadri in London where they decided to stage a sit-in against my government.”

The PML-N leader praised the armed forces’ sacrifices and pointed out that he had upped the defence budget and also refused $5 billion to not conduct the nuclear test in the 90s.

However, he said, it is also a “prerequisite for the sanctity of the armed forces that if any person suspends the Constitution then he should be held accountable”.

“Only a few people in the armed forces staged a coup but the entire institution has to pay the cost,” he added.

Nawaz said that he had already been punished once for his unwavering stance on civil supremacy, recalling: “Nineteen years ago, I was detained in torture cells, I was sentenced to life imprisonment, I was handcuffed and jetted off. Was there a Panama at that time? The answer is simply no. At that time, too, I was demanding civil supremacy. I wanted foreign and domestic policies to be in the hand of the elected representative.”

Sharif defended his government’s record over the last five years, saying: “I am a son of the soil. I don’t need a certificate of patriotism from anyone. In the last five years, the growth has been phenomenal — unmatched under any regime in the last 65 years.”

He voiced his displeasure over the Supreme Court’s July 28 verdict. “That judgement may satisfy some people but it was not good for the overall image of Pakistan. It did not contribute to the judiciary or criminal justice system because of the uncertainty arising after the verdict.”

The founder of the PML-N then questioned the NAB court as to why judiciaries of the past did not do anything against dictatorial regimes.

“Why was Liaquat Ali Khan martyred, why was Zulfikar Bhutto hanged, and why was Benazir Bhutto also martyred? I wish there was a court that could dare to ask generals why they abrogated the Constitution and why the judges legitimised their dictatorial regimes.”

The PML-N supreme leader reiterated that the allegations levelled against him are baseless and asked accountability court judge Mohammad Bashir to “make a just decision since you and me both will appear before Allah Almighty one day.”

Later in the day, Sharif read out his entire statement before the media at a press conference in Islamabad.

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