ISLAMABAD - The PTI government on Sunday presented a breakdown of the trail of corruption allegedly committed and instigated by the Sharifs and the Zardaris – the two major political families of the country.

At a detailed press conference, Information Minister Chaudhary Fawad Hussain explained how the national wealth was looted, laundered out of country and stashed abroad by the corrupt politicians. He vowed to bring the looted money back.

Prime Minister Imran Khan also taunted the former rulers in a tweet, saying that certain quarters “made a plunder a way of life.”

Khan shared the cryptic message quoting French writer Frédéric Bastiat: “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorises it and a moral code that glorifies it.”

He also quoted the French economist as saying that truth is reflected clearly in the way money launderers are treated and the way they behave with indignation when questioned.

Though Fawad also talked about Zardaris’ corruption, the thrust of his press conference was however on the Sharif family – which is jointly headed by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother and former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif.

If there was one family that had marked the beginning of modern-day corruption in Pakistan, it was the Sharif family, Fawad told the conference, where he was flanked by Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar.

The show came a day after NAB issued notices to PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif’s wife and two daughters for appearance for a corruption investigation. The ex-CM and his sons are already facing corruption investigations.

His elder brother Nawaz Sharif has been convicted in corruption cases along with his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Muhammad Safdar. The sons of Nawaz, Hassan and Hussain, have been declared proclaimed offenders by Islamabad Accountability Court.

As for former president and PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari, he, his sister Faryal Talpur and a number of close aides are under trial for a corruption and money laundering case.

 

 

‘Corruption by Sharifs’

The information minister asserted that the corruption has led to inflation, fall of exchange rate of Pakistani rupee, and all sorts of issues faced by Pakistanis abroad.

He said that Sharif family introduced the Economic Reform Act in 1992 to keep the source of capital hidden.

Fawad Chaudhry said that it was found out that in late 1990s the Hudaibiya Paper Mills was involved in large suspicious transactions. He said former finance minister Ishaq Dar introduced money laundering in the country, and he himself confessed his role in these transactions.

He said the investigation against Sahhbaz Sahrif in the assets beyond means sources started in 2018. He said Shahbaz Sharif and his family suddenly went abroad and issued 200 swift messages for transformation of money after starting investigation.

He said that Sharif had declared two flats in London whereas he made assets in DHA Lahore and Islamabad and in Model Town Lahore through TT. In addition, Nawaz Sharif received Rs 1.26 billion through TT.

During the time he made these assets, he had no source of income other than the salary as a chief minister, he added.

He said that a very small capital of the laundered money has been brought to Pakistan by the Sharif family and the rest is still abroad.

 

 

‘Corruption by Zardaris’

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that Asif Zardari set up a network of fake accounts in Sindh by using his employees including gardeners and cooks.

The FIA has traced 32 accounts out of 5000. The living expenses of Zardari’s children and the money spent for the upkeep of Zardari House Karachi was also paid through the fake accounts, he added.

To a question, he said Prime Minister Imran Khan was committed to rid the country of the menace of corruption and he was being supported by the whole nation in this task.

 

 

Shahzad and Hammad’s take

Speaking on the occasion, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar said that fake companies were set up in Dubai to launder money.

He said that members of Sharif family are unable to reply to the queries of NAB regarding the corruption. He said nation wants that accountability process reaches its logical conclusion and “we are committed to bring back the looted money”.

Akbar said that there is a possibility that Ayyan Ali like character will be discovered in Sharif family’s money laundering as well.

He said that NAB was doing its job through investigations and that the Sharif family had failed to answer questions of the NAB.

Talking about the performance of the bureau, he said that the government can only provide funds and it was NAB’s job to improve the standards of prosecution.

Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar said former finance minister Ishaq Dar is giving his opinion on the current economic situation based on assumptions. No independent economist has endorsed the policies of Ishaq Dar, he said.