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Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif appears before court in graft case, granted relief from further hearings

By PTI

LAHORE: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday appeared before a court here in an old case related to misuse of authority and was granted permanent exemption from personal appearances in the hearings.

Sharif (70) appeared before Lahore’s accountability court and personally requested it to allow him permanent exemption in his family’s Ramzan Sugar Mills’ case. “I have never sought exemption from personal appearance unnecessarily. Since Allah has given me the responsibility of serving the nation, I have to discharge my responsibilities like meeting with foreign delegates including (talks with) the International Monetary Funds,” he told the judge.

The premier’s pre-arrest bail in Rs 14 billion money laundering case has already been confirmed by a special court. Sharif said the national anti-graft body had accused him of misusing public money as chief minister of Punjab for the construction of a drain.

“The drain was constructed on the requisition of a local lawmaker from the Chiniot city after a formal approval by the provincial cabinet. Such drains were also constructed in other cities of the province,” he argued and presented a booklet to the judge containing details of development projects executed in the province during his stint as chief minister for 10 years (2008-18).

A prosecutor of the National Accountability Bureau opposed Sharif’s application for permanent exemption. Judge Sajid Ali Awan, however, rejected the arguments of the prosecutor and allowed permanent exemption for the premier.

In this case, the NAB had arrested Sharif on October 5, 2018 and the Lahore High Court had released on bail on February 14, 2019. PML-N president Sharif assumed the office of the prime minister on April 11 after Imran Khan was removed from office through a Parliament vote.

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