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50 cases against Pakistan PM sent back from courts to NAB, consider Shahbaz Sharif’s game

Islamabad : In a major relief to Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who is facing multiple corruption charges, the accountability courts of Pakistan have returned 50 major corruption cases against Shahbaz and other suspects to the National Accountability Bureau. Cases against Shahbaz, his son and former Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shahbaz, National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf and former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani have also been referred back by accountability courts to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Geo News reported on Saturday that the relief has been provided as per the amendments in the NAB laws. The reference to Ramzan Sugar Mill against Shahbaz and his son Hamza is also among the sent back cases.

In February 2019, the NAB had registered this corruption case against Shahbaz and his son Hamza. The apex anti-corruption body alleged that during his tenure as Punjab Chief Minister, Shahbaz abused his authority and committed irregularities with respect to Ramzan Sugar Mill, owned by his sons. The NAB alleged that the two suspects “fraudulently and dishonestly” caused a loss of 213 million Pakistani rupees (approximately $948,565) to the national exchequer.

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allegation of abuse of office
Similarly, an accountability court returned six Rental Power Plant (RPP) cases against the Speaker of the National Assembly to the NAB. The bureau had alleged that Ashraf had misused his position for these projects when he was water and power minister during the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government. The Universal Services Fund (USF) case against PPP MP Yousuf Raza Gilani was also withdrawn. In the case, he was accused of misusing his position in an illegal campaign.

NAB has limited economic jurisdiction
The Modarba scam and company fraud cases have also been withdrawn from the accountability courts after the amendment in the NAB rules. In August, the National Assembly passed the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Bill, 2022, which sought to keep private transactions out of the purview of the NAB. Under the amended Bill, the economic jurisdiction of the NAB was fixed to act only against big scams. It was also proposed that supplementary cases could be filed only with the permission of the court to expedite the court proceedings within one year.

Imran Khan challenged the amendments in the court
Since coming to power, the Shahbaz-led government has amended the NAB Act and not only limited the jurisdiction of the anti-corruption watchdog, but also put a moratorium on surveillance through agencies. Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has alleged that the Shahbaz-led government has changed the NAB laws only to benefit him (Shahbaz), his family and other leaders who have been named in various corruption cases. Khan has challenged these amendments in court.

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