Zardari didn’t operate fake accounts directly: Fawad


ISLAMABAD: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain Friday said that with the available evidence in the money-laundering case, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) President Shehbaz Sharif could not escape punishment.

He was addressing a press conference here along with Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad and Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Political Communication Shehbaz Gill. He said the PM’s Adviser on Accountability Shahzad Akbar had given a detailed briefing in the meeting of spokespersons on the corruption of the Shehbaz Sharif family. The minister said about a year ago, it came to light that Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz were involved in money laundering and they operated these accounts like Omni Group accounts by the Zardari group.

However, he said, Zardari group did not operate these accounts directly but Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz operated them directly, and 17,000 transactions of 18 people were checked through which Rs16 billion were laundered by only one factory of the Shehbaz Sharif and family.

He said this corruption was the tip of the iceberg in Shahbaz Sharif case. He asked the media that it should examine the documents of the cases against Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz and bring the facts before people.

The minister said that there was only one chance of escape from punishment for Shehbaz if no hearings of the case were held. He hoped that the court would make day-to-day hearing of the case for its early disposal.

He informed the media that Prime Minister Imran Khan appeared as a witness in his defamation case against Khwaja Asif through video-link. Under the new system, set up by the Law Ministry in Islamabad, he said witnesses could appear in their cases through video conferencing, and this practice has been started.

He said that Kh Asif alleged misuse of charity money at Shaukat Khanum Hospital in 2012, and the case has not been decided yet. Shaukat Khanum Hospital spent Rs70 billion every year on treatment of poor people, Ch Fawad said, adding if such allegations were made, then who will do charity work in Pakistan.

He expressed the hope the case would be decided soon, and as always Kh Asif would prove to be a liar, as he never told the truth in his life. The minister said during Punjab Committee meeting, the PM expressed no confidence in Khanewal election.

He said that deficiencies should be rectified, reports of money distribution came to the fore in bye-elections which was unfortunate and the ECP should take steps in that regard. The minister said that upcoming local bodies elections in Punjab were discussed in detail and a high-level committee had been formed in the province to finalise the candidates for the post of district mayor.

He said that Minister for Energy Hamad Azhar gave a briefing on the gas issue in a meeting of spokespersons. He said that they were informed that out of 2,300 industrial units of Sui Northern, gas was being supplied to 1,800 units.

He said Hamad told the spokespersons that it was not possible for the government to give costly imported gas to industries at cheap rates. Fawad said that giving gas to captive plants would mean complete shutdown of gas for domestic consumers.

The Ministry of Energy was of the view that the captive plants are inactive, it is not right to give more subsidies as these plants were generating electricity from gas, which was available in excess on discounted rates.

He said that the gas problem was more acute in Karachi, as the commodity was being supplied to 50 top exporters in the mega city. Gas reserves in Pakistan decreased by 9pc last year and they would further deplete 9pc this year, said Ch Fawad. He said that the government procured gas according to its carriage capacity, but expensive imported LNG cannot be given for domestic use.

Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib said that the PMLN cast votes of dead persons in the bye-elections in Khanewal. He said that after 40 years, an extraordinary meeting of the OIC was being held on Afghanistan as Pakistan wanted to inform the Muslim Ummah and the entire world about the impending humanitarian crisis in neighbouring country. He said the meeting was a manifestation of the successful foreign policy of Pakistan.

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