Khawaja Asif dejected for being ignored by Sharifs

ISLAMABAD: Senior leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Khawaja Mohammad Asif, after his release from jail, complained to the party workers against party’s top leadership for what he called its ‘cold shoulder’ and of ‘being ignored’.

Soon after being released from jail, Asif told the PML-N workers that while he was in jail, neither Shehbaz Sharif nor Hamza Shehbaz would come to see him despite being present in Lahore. He said that he was hugely disappointed with the attitude of the PML-N leadership.

According to sources in the PML-N, Asif was released from prison but no senior PML-N leader reached to meet him at the hospital where he was admitted following his release.

He said that he was hugely disappointed with the attitude of the top leadership. Despite the presence of Shehbaz and Hamza in Lahore, no MPA or MNA reached the hospital.

Talking to local activists, he complained that no seniors came to visit him even during his jail days.

A high court bench — comprising Justice Aalia Neelum and Justice Syed Shahbaz Ali Rizvi \— announced the verdict on Wednesday.

The National Accountability Bureau had arrested Asif in December last year from outside the Islamabad residence of another PML-N leader, Ahsan Iqbal, on charges of being in possession of wealth beyond his declared sources of income.

In March, he approached the court to secure bail, contending that during his 22-day physical remand with the National Accountability Bureau that he was not confronted with any “direct or circumstantial evidence that would construct the case”.

“The application, under section 24(d) of National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, filed by respondent Assistant Director NAB Mohammad Ikram, for seeking physical remand of the petitioner did not disclose any incriminating material supporting the alleged commission of the crime under section 9(a)(v) of NAO,” the petition read.

“Mere ownership of property/assets did not constitute an offense under section 9(a)(v). It is the failure to explain the source of funds that points towards the commission of the offense. The inquiry is being conducted on conjectures and surmises with a view to rope the petitioner into baseless and unfounded allegations.

“In the absence of any plausible reason to reject the detailed explanation offered by the petitioner regarding his ownership of assets and source of income, this case is one of further inquiry and post-arrest bail should be granted.”

He said he had provided the agency with an explanation of the various sources of wealth, explaining the acquisition of the assets he owns.

“Rejection of the explanation, without any reasonable ground, is itself evidence of the arbitrary exercise of power on part of respondents hence justifying interference by the court and grant of post-arrest bail,” he said.

THE CASE:

According to the charge sheet against Asif, NAB was carrying out investigations against him under Clause 4 of the NAB Ordinance, 1999 and Section 3 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010.

“Before assuming the public office in 1991, the total worth of Khawaja Asif’s assets was Rs5.1 million which increased to Rs221m in 2018 after serving on different posts that do not match with his known sources of income,” said the statement.

“Accused Khawaja Asif claimed to have received Rs130 million from a UAE firm M/s IMECO, but during the course of the investigation, he failed to present any solid evidence of receiving this amount as a salary,” it said. “This clearly shows that the accused tried to prove his income through fake sources.”

Moreover, NAB alleges that Asif was also running a company, Tariq Mir and Company — registered in the name of his staffer — through his frontmen. It said that an amount of Rs400 million was deposited in the account of Tariq Mir and no sources of this huge amount were disclosed.

Mian Abrar
The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He tweets as @mian_abrar and also can be reached at [email protected]

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