Pakistan: Major setback for ex-PMs Shehbaz, Nawaz Sharif as corruption cases to be reopened before elections

Former Pakistan Prime Ministers- Nawaz Sharif (L) and
Image Source : AP/FILE Former Pakistan Prime Ministers- Nawaz Sharif (L) and Shehbaz Sharif

In major trouble for Pakistan’s former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif and ex-president Asif Ali Zardari before the general elections, the cases related to corruption would be reopened following a recent landmark ruling by the Supreme Court. According to a media report, cases of at least 80 high-profile politicians would be revived.

These are among the hundreds of cases closed as a result of amendments made to the anti-corruption laws by the previous government led by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) led by Nawaz Sharif. The hearing for these cases would begin soon, officials sources said.

An apex court bench, headed by former Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, had on September 15 declared the amendments to the anti-graft laws void and directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to revive within seven days the closed cases against public office holders.

The apex court had announced its reserved decision on jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s plea filed last year, challenging the amendments made to the accountability laws by the then government led by Shehbaz Sharif.

NAB prosecution has submitted the record of 80 cases to the accountability court in Islamabad, the Dawn newspaper reported. Several others have been returned to the accountability courts of Rawalpindi and Quetta.

According to official sources, about 2,000 cases, which were earlier closed, are being reopened against officials and businessmen after the intervention by the apex court.

The 80 cases transmitted to the local accountability court included the Park Lane case against Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Zardari, Universal Services Funds, in which former prime minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani and others are suspects; the Rental Power Projects case against former premier Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, and the case of Benazir Income Support Programme’s former chairperson Farzana Raja.

The cases against former prime minister Shaukat Aziz and fake accounts cases against Zardari and Omni Group’s directors also stand revived.

The Supreme Court had in its order directed: “The NAB and/or all other fora shall forthwith return the record of all such matters to the relevant fora and in any event not later than seven days from today, which shall be proceeded with in accordance with law from the same stage these were at when the same were disposed of / closed/returned,” according to the report.

Former premiers Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif would also face cases that were closed due to the amendments made by the government led by the PML-N party before it recommended the dissolution of the National Assembly last month ahead of the general elections.

Incidentally, Nawaz Sharif’s return from London next month, ending his almost four-year exile, is possibly in question with the corruption cases against him restored, a senior leader of PML-N said on Thursday.

PML-N thinks that these may cause some legal implications for the three-time former prime minister ahead of his planned return and lead the party in the general elections.

(With inputs from PTI)

Also Read: Pakistan to hold general elections in last week of January 2024, announces Election Commission

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